ISTANBUL, Turkey – Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Istanbul on Monday to protest Israel’s military actions in Gaza and the recent killing of Turkish soldiers by Kurdish militants in Iraq. The rally, organized by a foundation with ties to the son of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, attracted demonstrators waving Turkish and Palestinian flags as they called for an end to the conflict.
The protesters gathered after morning prayers at several iconic mosques in Istanbul, including Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, before marching to the Galata Bridge chanting slogans against Israel. The official Anadolu news agency reported that tens of thousands of people participated in the rally, expressing support for the Palestinian cause and condemning the Israeli offensive in Gaza, which has resulted in many civilian casualties.
President Erdogan has been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause and has repeatedly criticized Israel for the impact of its military actions in Gaza. He has accused Israel of “state terrorism” and has drawn comparisons between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Adolf Hitler. The Israeli offensive in Gaza has resulted in significant destruction and a high civilian death toll, while the Turkish soldiers were killed in attacks by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.
The Turkish government, which considers the PKK a terrorist organization, has regularly conducted military operations in northern Iraq against the group. The rally in Istanbul reflects the strong sentiments in Turkey against Israel’s actions in Gaza and the ongoing conflict in the region. As the protests continue, the death toll in Gaza continues to rise, and the situation remains volatile.