Turkish PM Erdoğan accuses Israel of blocking humanitarian aid to Gaza

Turkish PM Erdoğan accuses Israel of blocking humanitarian aid to Gaza

Turkish PM Erdoğan accuses Israel of blocking humanitarian aid to Gaza

AA Photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused Israel of preventing the transfer of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, in his latest verbal salvo against Tel Aviv, as the death toll from the military campaign in Gaza rises to more than 845 people.

“The barbaric massacre that Israel has launched in Gaza is going on at full speed. The United Nations is silent about the massacre; furthermore, it is encouraging Israel,” Erdoğan said on July 25, delivering a speech in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir during the inauguration of the Ankara-Istanbul high-speed railway line.

“You see those mothers, don’t you? There are almost 800 martyrs in Gaza. At the moment, we are having difficulty in sending even humanitarian aid. We shall send medicine and food, but it [Israel] is trying to prevent even that. But we will reach out to there sooner or later,” he added.

In Cairo on the same day, after holding several meetings with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Egyptian officials aimed at ending the conflict, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an immediate “humanitarian pause” in the fighting in Gaza, lasting through the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

Erdoğan, meanwhile, also suggested that an “immoral” smear campaign had been launched against him both inside the country and abroad, attempting to portray of him as an anti-Semite.

“They are conducting an immoral campaign by distorting our remarks both inside and abroad and trying to show us as anti-Semitic. But I am perhaps the first prime minister in the world to say that anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity,” he said.

He also added, however, that European officials had so far been reluctant to label Islamophobia as a crime against humanity in the same way as anti-Semitisim.

The remarks came only a day after a Jewish American group asked Erdoğan to return an award it gave him in 2004, accusing the Turkish leader of “dangerous rhetoric” and “inciting violence against the Jewish people.”

In an open letter to Erdoğan on July 24, Jack Rosen, the president of the American Jewish Congress, said the Turkish prime minister had become “arguably the most virulent anti-Israel leader in the world.”

Erdoğan, who is campaigning to be elected president next month, has spoken out strongly against the ongoing military operations in Gaza, accusing Israel of committing “genocide” and “barbarism surpassing Hitler.”