Turkey on Friday accused Israel of using “disproportionate force” against the Palestinians as clashes in Gaza near the Israeli border left at least eight people dead and dozens wounded.
“We strongly condemn Israel’s use of disproportionate force against Palestinians during the peaceful protests today (Friday) in Gaza,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Tens of thousands of people took part in protests along the border with Israel that Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas had said would be peaceful.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported some 355 people wounded from live fire, while the health ministry in the Gaza Strip said seven people were killed in one of the most violent clashes in recent years, in addition to an eighth man left dead from tank fire.
Israel’s military said protesters were hurling stones and firebombs at soldiers. There were no reports of Israelis injured or killed. The Turkish foreign ministry expressed “concerns” over the casualties.
“It is necessary that Israel rapidly ends use of force that would further raise the tensions in the region,” it said. “We are inviting the international community to fulfil its responsibility to convince Israel to give up on its hostile attitude.”
The Turkish government has been one of the most vocal advocates of the Palestinian cause, but criticises Israeli assaults in Gaza. Turkey and Israel reached a deal in 2016 to end a six-year diplomatic crisis that erupted when Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish activists travelling on an aid flotilla to break the siege of Gaza.