First Published: 2012-11-20


Erdogan on Gaza: This is not self defence, this is ethnic cleansing


Turkish PM accuses Israel of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Gaza, as Palestinian death toll from six days of bombardment hits 116.


Middle East Online

‘Israel will answer for innocent blood’

ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing" in Gaza, as six Palestinians were killed in a new wave of Israeli strikes on Gaza, medics said, raising the Palestinian toll from six days of bombardment to 116.

The new raids ended a night of relative quiet in which no-one was killed for the first time since Israel launched its relentless aerial assault on rocket-firing militants in the enclave on November 14, Palestinian medics said.

Erdogan said Israel's air raids could not be considered self defence.

"Israel is committing ethnic cleansing by ignoring peace in this region and violating international law," Erdogan said. "It is occupying the Palestinian territory step by step."

The infuriated premier said Israeli air raids against Gaza could not be deemed self defence, accusing Western countries of aiding what it called a "terrorist state" by condoning its violence in the Middle East.

"Sooner or later, Israel will answer for the innocent blood it has shed so far," he said.

On Monday, Erdogan said the United Nations "turned a blind eye" on Israeli attacks against Palestinians, accusing the international body of double standards against Muslims.

More than 920 people have been injured in the bombing campaign.

Emergency services spokesman Adham Abu Selmiya named the latest victims as Abdel Rahman Hamed, who died in Safina just north of Gaza City, and Mohammed Badr who was killed in a strike on Deir al-Balah in central Gaza.

Earlier he said another three people died in separate strikes on the northern Gaza Strip and a fourth had been killed in an area just south of Gaza City.

Among the latest victims were 15-year-old Yahya Mohammed Awad who was hunting birds near the beach when a missile hit the northern Sudaniya area, and two men who were killed in the nearby town of Beit Lahiya: Yahya Maaruf, a farmer who was working his land, and another man called Bilal Birawi, 20.

And in Mughraqa, just south of Gaza City, another strike killed Mahmud Rizk al-Zahar, he said.

Overnight, the Israeli military said it attacked about 100 targets with a combination of aircraft, warships and artillery, one of which targeted "a financial institution used by Hamas".

Palestinian officials confirmed that National Islamic Bank in Gaza City, which was set up by the Islamist movement that runs Gaza, was severely damaged in a raid.

Hamas officials and witnesses also said that strikes hit the homes of several leaders within its armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.

Among those targeted were the homes of senior Hamas military commander Raed Aatar in the southern city of Rafah, as well as that of Abu Anza, a Qassam official in Khan Yunis, also in the south, where raids also targeted Islamic Jihad offices.

Monday was the bloodiest day of the Israeli operation since it was launched on Wednesday, with 33 people killed.

During the late evening, a family of four was killed in an attack on Beit Lahiya, and two teenage brothers were killed in Rafah.

During the day, warplanes had attacked Gaza City's Shuruq tower media centre -- the second time the building has been targeted -- killing a senior Islamic Jihad militant.

Islamic Jihad sources named him as Ramez Harb and said he was a senior commander in its armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades.


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