Turkey’s Erdogan calls for pressure on Israel to allow more aid into Gaza

By Thomson Reuters Mar 12, 2024 | 2:04 PM

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called for increased international pressure on Israel to ensure more humanitarian aid is allowed into Gaza, and said Ankara will increase its support during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Turkey, which has harshly criticised Israel for its military offensive in Gaza and backed steps to have the Israeli leadership tried for genocide at the World Court, has repeatedly called for a ceasefire, while sending more than 40,000 tons of humanitarian aid via Egypt.

Speaking at a fast-breaking dinner during Ramadan with foreign ambassadors in Ankara, Erdogan criticised Western countries for backing Israel, saying they had given Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the opportunity to carry out “savage attacks” on the enclave due to their “indecisive stance”.

“No matter what the Israeli leadership does, it cannot hide the reality that it is a murdering, cruel, criminal, lying, and fascist (government),” Erdogan said, adding remarks calling for calm were meaningless while support for Israel continued.

“We all know very well that as long as attacks on Gaza and the siege continues, the amount of aid is not enough. The most urgent need is for the number of trucks passing the Rafah gate to be increased. Of course, pressure needs to be put on Israel for this,” he added, referring to Egypt’s border crossing with Gaza.

Last week, Turkey’s Kizilay (Red Crescent) sent its biggest aid shipment yet to Gaza, dispatching a ship carrying some 3,000 tons of food, medicine and equipment.

Erdogan said on Tuesday that humanitarian support for Gazans would increasingly continue during Ramadan, which began this week, through state institutions, associations and other channels.

Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israel would press forward with its military campaign into Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Israel says it is not to blame for Gaza’s hunger, as it is allowing aid through two crossings at the southern edge of the territory. Aid agencies say that is not enough to get sufficient supplies through, particularly to the northern part of the enclave that is effectively cut off.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Susan Fenton)