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Israel-Palestine war: Turkish police fire teargas, water cannon at pro-Palestine protesters

Crackdown on demonstrators outside Incirlik airbase hours before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken due in Ankara
Turkish police use water cannon to disperse protesters holding Palestinian and Islamic flags near the Incirlik airbase in Adana, southern Turkey, on 5 November 2023 (AFP)

Turkish police on Sunday used teargas and water cannon to disperse a pro-Palestinian rally outside the Incirlik airbase, hours before the arrival in Ankara of Washington's top diplomat.

Images posted on social media showed hundreds of people waving Palestinian flags being chased by police and security forces outside the strategic airbase, which also houses US forces, to coincide with a visit to Ankara by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is due to meet Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan on Monday.

The local Demiroren news agency reported that police had allowed the protesters to hold a demonstration in a designated area but some allegedly tried to enter the facility.

The Incirlik airbase in southeast Turkey is owned by Turkey but is also used by the US Air Force and occasionally the UK's Royal Air Force, providing them with strategic access to large parts of the Middle East.

Sunday's protest was organised by the IHH humanitarian relief fund, which in 2010 led a flotilla to Gaza that sparked Israeli raids in which 10 civilians died.

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A separate protest was held on Sunday in Ankara, where hundreds of Turks raised banners calling for the re-establishment of an Islamic state, also known as the Khilafah, to replace the democratic system in Turkey, in response to the conflict in Gaza.

Protestors in Ankara demand the reestablishment of the Islamic State in response to conflict in Gaza on 5 November 2023 (AFP)
Protesters in Ankara demand the re-establishment of an Islamic state in response to the conflict in Gaza, on 5 November 2023 (AFP)

In recent days, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly lashed out at the United States for supporting the Israeli military action, which he has likened to "genocide".

On Saturday, Turkey said it was recalling its ambassador to Israel for consultations over Israel's sustained bombing of civilians in the Gaza Strip and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the besieged enclave.

On Friday, Erdogan had said he was breaking off contact with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but added this did not mean Turkey was severing relations with Israel.

"Netanyahu is no longer someone we can talk to. We have written him off," Turkish media quoted Erdogan as saying.

Follow Middle East Eye's live coverage for the latest on the Israel-Palestine war

In response to an unprecedented attack on southern Israeli towns on 7 October, the Israeli army launched its most agressive bombing campaign on Gaza in recent memory.

The Israeli military has decimated entire neighbourhoods, and continuously targeted hospitals, bakeries, civilian infrastructure, mosques, and schools sheltering thousands of displaced people. 

At least 9,488 people have been killed, including 3,900 children and 2,500 women.

On 3 November, Israeli jets bombed the entrance of Gaza's biggest hospital, al-Shifa, leaving at least 15 dead and 60 wounded, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. Bombs were also dropped in the courtyards of the Indonesian hospital.

"I am horrified by the reported attack in Gaza on an ambulance convoy outside al-Shifa hospital," UN chief Antonio Guterres said on Friday evening. "The images of bodies strewn on the street outside the hospital are harrowing."

"For nearly one month, civilians in Gaza, including children and women, have been besieged, denied aid, killed, and bombed out of their homes," Guterres added. "This must stop."

Wounded Palestinians and foreign passport holders attempting to leave Gaza through the Rafah crossing have been prevented from doing since Saturday, due to Israeli bombings, according to medical and security sources who spoke to Reuters.

One of the security sources and the medical source said the evacuations were halted after an Israeli strike on Friday on an ambulance transporting wounded people in Gaza.

Ambulances have been targeted throughout the duration of the war, with at least 15 rendered totally out of use. 

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