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Hamas leaders laud Turkey for supporting Palestine

Khaled Meshaal hails Turkey as 'source of power' for Muslims while Ismail Haniyeh pays tribute to Turkish aid organizations in Gaza
Turkey's former Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) greeting Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal during an AKP congress in Ankara on 30 September, 2012 (AFP)

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal on Saturday praised Turkey as a "source of power" for all Muslims in gratitude to Turkey's leaders for supporting the Palestinian cause.

"A democratic, stable and developed Turkey is a source of power for all Muslims," Meshaal said in an address to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) annual congress in the conservative central Anatolian city of Konya.

Meshaal said a "strong Turkey means a strong Jerusalem, a strong Palestine," voicing hopes to "liberate Palestine and Jerusalem," according to the state-run Anatolia news agency.

His brief address was interrupted repeatedly by cheering crowds in the hall waving Turkish and Palestinian flags and chanting: "God is greatest" and "Down with Israel!"

The Hamas chief often shows up at the ruling party's events. He also attended the AKP's congress in 2012 when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was serving as prime minister.

Current Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, in his speech said Turkey's red flag featuring a crescent with a star was a "symbol of the innocent in the world."

"God is witness ... we will make this red flag a symbol of the innocent. This red flag will fly side by side with the flags of Palestine, free Syria and all other innocents' flags anywhere in the world," he told the congress.

Turkey's leaders, in particular Erdogan, are known for their angry outbursts at Israel. A staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, Erdogan has often blasted Israel over its military assaults on the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas.

Hamas' Haniyeh thanks Turkey for supporting Palestinians

Meanwhile in Gaza, Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday paid tribute to Turkey for its support of the Palestinian people through its aid organizations.

"We would like to voice appreciation for the Turkish people and government as well as Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) for supporting the Palestinian people," Haniyeh told The Anadolu Agency on Sunday.

Hailing what he described as "holy" and "close" ties between the Palestinian and Turkish peoples, Haniyeh said the Turkish support has proven vital in easing the suffering of the residents of the blockaded Gaza Strip.

"Turkey has not spared money or sacrifices in efforts to break the [Israeli] siege on Gaza," he added.

He also thanked the Turkish aid organizations for extending financial support to 2,000 poor families in Gaza.

Several Turkish charities and humanitarian organizations have opened branches in the Gaza Strip to offer aid to struggling residents of the war-battered coastal territory.

The Palestinian Social Affairs Ministry said recently that the number of poor families in the Gaza Strip had doubled – from 60,000 to 120,000 – in the wake of Israel's recent offensive.

Israel's 51-day onslaught, which ended on August 26, left more than 2,160 Gazans dead and 11,000 injured, while partially or completely destroying thousands of residential units across the embattled strip.

The offensive ended on August 26 with an indefinite cease-fire celebrated by Hamas as a strategic victory.

In mid-December, Abu Obeida, Hamas' armed wing Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades, thanked Turkey, Qatar and Iran for "supporting the people of Gaza and the Palestinian cause."

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