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Erdogan says Biden has 'bloody hands' for backing Israel

Turkish president, who has previously sought to mend frayed ties with Washington, slammed reported weapons sales to Israel
Turkey has repeatedly condemned the violence and accused Israel of carrying out 'ethnic, religious and cultural cleansing' (Reuters/File photo)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday accused US President Joe Biden of having "bloody hands" because of Washington's support for Israel's bombing campaign on the besieged Gaza Strip.

"You are writing history with your bloody hands," Erdogan said in televised remarks directed at Biden. "You forced us to say this. We cannot step back," the Turkish president added. 

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Erdogan had spent the past few months trying to mend frayed relations with Washington and had reached out to other Western allies after a year of bitter disputes.

But Monday's remarks represented one of his strongest attacks on Biden since his arrival in the White House in January.

"Today we saw Biden's signature on weapons sales to Israel," Erdogan said in reference to US media reports of a new arms shipment approved by the Biden administration.

"Palestinian territories are awash with persecution, suffering and blood, like many other territories that lost the peace with the end of the Ottomans. And you are supporting that," Erdogan said.

Pressure mounts on Biden to act

The Turkish president's comments also came as the Biden administration reportedly blocked the UN Security Council from issuing a joint statement calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Pressure has been mounting on Biden to call for a ceasefire, as Israel's intense bombing of Gaza enters its second week. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that Israel's war on Gaza would "take time" and continue "as long as necessary”.

According to Gaza's health ministry, at least 212 people, including 61 children, have been killed since Israel launched its military campaign on Gaza on 10 May.

On Sunday, dozens of Senate Democrats, including progressive lawmaker Bernie Sanders, urged the Biden administration to push for an immediate ceasefire.

"To prevent any further loss of civilian life and to prevent further escalation of conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories, we urge an immediate ceasefire," the senators said.

Pope urged to end massacre

Meanwhile, tensions have boiled over in cities and towns across the occupied West Bank and Israel, as Israeli forces violently cracked down on daily Palestinian protests against the planned expulsion of families in occupied East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, and attacks on al-Aqsa mosque during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Mixed towns in Israel have also witnessed armed confrontations between Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jewish ultra-nationalists, backed by Israeli police.

Turkey has repeatedly condemned the violence and accused Israel of carrying out "ethnic, religious and cultural cleansing".

Earlier on Monday, Erdogan urged Pope Francis to help end what he called Israel's "massacre" of Palestinians, which he said should be punished with sanctions.

In a call, the Turkish leader told the pontiff that "Palestinians will continue to be subjected to a massacre unless the international community punishes Israel… with sanctions," adding that the pope's messages were of "great importance to mobilise the Christian world and the international community."