Turkish gov’t asks Israeli ambassador to leave the country over Gaza killings

The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned Israeli Ambassador to Turkey Eitan Naeh as the death toll from Israeli gunfire on Palestinian protesters rose to 60 along the Gaza border on Tuesday and asked him to leave the country.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, the Foreign Ministry summoned Ambassador Naeh and told him it would be “appropriate” for him to return to his country “for a while,” said diplomatic sources who declined to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

The Turkish government on Monday declared three days of national mourning following the killing of at least 55 Palestinians at the time by Israeli forces along the Gaza border and has recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Israel for consultations.

“Turkey has recalled ambassadors from Tel Aviv and Washington for consultations,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ told reporters in Ankara following a Cabinet meeting. “Today will go down in the history as Bloody Monday for Muslims and Islamic countries,” Bozdağ said, adding that “the US has violated United Nations Security Council decisions by opening its embassy in Jerusalem.”

Meanwhile President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, “We declare national mourning for three days, starting tomorrow, to stand in solidarity with our Palestinian brothers,” addressing students in London.

“Israel is a terror state,” the Erdoğan said. Labeling the killings on Monday a “genocide,” Erdoğan also said a big rally is set to be held on May 18 in İstanbul as a sign of solidarity. “I will be speaking with several leaders including Mahmoud Abbas and the UN secretary-general,” Erdoğan said.

“This is a cowardly massacre, and we strongly condemn it,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told reporters at Esenboğa Airport in the Turkish capital. Yıldırım said around 2,000 people were injured during the demonstrations. “International law has been ignored, so to speak, and … the decision to move the embassy has been stubbornly carried out,” he said.

“Turkey condemns this decision one more time and declares it null and void,” Yıldırım added. “As Turkey, we will stand together with our brothers until Palestine gains its freedom,” Yıldırım said.

At least 60 Palestinian demonstrators were killed and thousands more injured by Israeli forces. Thousands of Palestinians gathered on the Gaza Strip’s eastern border Monday morning to take part in protests to commemorate the Nakba anniversary and protest relocating of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Since the border rallies began on March 30, more than 90 Palestinian demonstrators have been killed by cross-border Israeli gunfire, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The rallies were to culminate on Tuesday, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment, an event Palestinians refer to as the “Nakba” or “the Catastrophe.”

Last week, the Israeli government said the ongoing border protests constituted a “state of war” in which international humanitarian law did not apply.

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