ISTANBUL, TURKEY – Tens of thousands of Turkish citizens gathered in Istanbul on Monday to protest against Israel’s actions in Gaza and the killing of Turkish soldiers by Kurdish militants in Iraq. The rally was organized by a foundation with ties to Bilal Erdogan, the son of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and began after morning prayers at iconic mosques in the city.
Protesters waved Turkish and Palestinian flags as they chanted slogans condemning Israel and expressing support for Palestinians. The crowd called for Israel to leave Palestine and voiced their anger at the Israeli government. The official Anadolu news agency reported that tens of thousands of people participated in the rally.
President Erdogan, a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, has condemned Israel’s military actions in Gaza and accused the Israeli Prime Minister of “state terrorism.” The ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza has resulted in a significant loss of life and extensive destruction in the region.
At the same time, the Turkish military has been dealing with attacks by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq. In late December, 12 Turkish soldiers were killed in two separate attacks by the PKK. Turkey considers the PKK a terrorist organization and has conducted military operations in northern Iraq against the group.
The protests in Istanbul reflect the deep concern and anger among Turks over the situation in Gaza and the loss of Turkish soldiers. The demonstrations also highlight the complex and longstanding conflicts in the Middle East, with Turkey playing a key role in the region.
The Israeli offensive in Gaza has resulted in a high number of casualties, while the ongoing violence between Turkey and the PKK adds another layer of tension to the situation. The protests in Istanbul serve as a reminder of the interconnectedness of conflicts in the Middle East and the deep impact they have on the people in the region.