Gaza attacks put chill in US-Turkey relation

Gaza attacks put chill in US-Turkey relation

Gaza attacks put chill in US-Turkey relation

Civil defense members try to dig out an injured Palestinian man, who is buried under the sand after an Israeli air raid near his car in the northern Gaza Strip. Nearly 20 were killed in violent exchange between Israel and Hamas. REUTERS photo

Turkish leaders have called on the U.S. in particular to warn Israel as it continued to pound Gaza with bombs for a second day while they asked the international community for a harsh condemnation of Israel’s actions.

President Abdullah Gül said everybody expected the U.S. warn Israel and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu urged his U.S. counterpart, Hillary Clinton, by phone to pressure Israel in order to ease tension in the region. In his phone conversation with Clinton, Davutoğlu said it was important to take steps to de-escalate tension on both sides. Davutoğlu also conveyed the frustration of the Palestinian Authority that the Israeli assault came after recent sanctions against Palestinians to block their upcoming initiative in the U.N. to be recognized as a non-member state.

“Regardless of Hamas or Fatah, President Mahmoud Abbas thinks that the attack was conducted over the Palestinian initiative,” Foreign Ministry officials told the Hürriyet Daily News. Turkey is concerned mounting tension about the Gaza issue may also worsen current problems like the Syrian crisis, according to Turkish officials. It was not possible to tolerate Israel’s attacks on Gaza, Gül said. “On the contrary, it should be condemned harshly. There is no doubt that a U.S. warning of Israel is highly expected by everyone,” Gül said.

“We are extremely concerned about the recent Israeli offensive against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and, frankly speaking, I strongly condemn the attack,” Gül said.

Gül said the likelihood of such an attack ahead of the general elections in Israel was a highly discussed topic in international public opinion. The president said Israel had carried out a similar attack in Gaza before the Israeli elections in 2009. It appeared that the attacks had the potential to escalate, he added. Turkey would take steps at international institutions for necessary measures against Israel’s “aggressive position,” Davutoğlu told reporters yesterday in Djibouti.

Turkey would make efforts at both the OIC and other international institutions to condemn Israel’s actions and to push for necessary measures, he added. Davutoğlu said he had held talks with Hamas Political Bureau chief Khaled Mashaal, as well as authorities in Gaza and Egypt.

In remarks delivered late Nov. 14, EU Minister Egemen Bağış said the Israeli attack on Gaza was a maneuver for parliamentary elections that would be held in Israel and also an effort to create turmoil after the U.S. presidential election. Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan also called the international community to react against the recent Israeli assault on Gaza.

“I see it very important for the international community to show the necessary reaction to Israel against its assault [on Gaza]. As Turkey, we have always been together with the oppressed people of Gaza. Our solidarity will continue in the future as well,” Babacan said. Moshe Kamhi, the consul general of Israel in Istanbul, said the air strikes would continue until the safety of Israelis living in the country’s south is assured.

Israel and Hamas wage online war of words

Social media became a weapon of war as Israel and Hamas used sites like Twitter and Facebook in the wake of an Israeli raid on the Gaza Strip.

Israeli army’s Twitter account @IDFSpokesperson has pushed out multiple updates on the operation using the hashtags #IsraelUnderFire or #PillarOfDefense. The Israeli military also ran a live blog of the attack. It also has a regularly updated account on microblogging platform Tumblr.

Israel announced its attack on Hamas on Nov. 14 on Twitter first.

Israeli army posted a picture of Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari, killed in a recent Israeli attack, on a red background with the word “Eliminated” across it, alongside a description of several crimes of which Israel accused him. It linked to a video of the air strike which killed al-Jaabari.

It has also used Twitter to send a warning to Hamas.

@IDFSpokesperson: We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.

Hamas’s military arm, the al-Qassam Brigades, immediately responded, addressing the Israeli army directly.

@AlqassamBrigade: Our blessed hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are (You Opened Hell Gates on Yourselves).

Hamas is also using this Twitter account to push out news of its activities and post disturbing photos of alleged child victims.

Eighteen months of tension in and around Gaza

JERUSALEM – Agence France-Presse

- April 7-10: An anti-tank missile fired from Gaza hits an Israeli school bus, killing a teenager and sparking three days of violence that leaves 19 Palestinians dead and 66 wounded.
- August 18: Gunmen ambush Israeli buses and cars near the Egyptian border, killing eight Israelis and wounding more than 25
- August 18-21: Israeli reprisal raids kill 15 Gazans, many of them militants, who respond by firing more than 100 projectiles into Israel, killing one person.
- August 26: A truce takes hold after the deaths of 26 Palestinians and an Israeli.
- October 29-30: Israel kills five militants it says were about to fire rockets, sparking clashes which leave 10 Palestinians and an Israeli dead within 24 hours.

- March 9-12: Israeli strike on Gaza City kills the head of the Popular Resistance Committees, unleashing four days of bloodshed that kills 25 Gazans, 14 of them Islamic Jihad militants.
- June 18-23: Air strike in northern Gaza kills two Islamic Jihad militants, igniting five days of fighting in which Israel kills 15 Gazans, most of them militants, and five Israelis are injured as 152 rockets land in the south.
- October 22-24: Two militants killed by Israel in northern Gaza, sparking three days of bloodshed that leaves eight militants dead.
- November 10-13: Militants fire an anti-tank missile at an Israeli jeep, wounding four soldiers. In retaliatory gunfire and strikes, Israel kills seven people, including three militants and two minors.
- November 14-15: Israel kills top Hamas military commander Ahmed Jaabari.