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Turkey expels Israeli ambassador over Gaza killings

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The Turkish Foreign Ministry told Israeli Ambassador to Turkey Eitan Naeh to leave the country on Tuesday after Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinians during protests on the Gaza border over the Monday opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Reuters reported.

“The Israeli ambassador was told that our envoy to Israel was recalled for consultations and was informed that it would be appropriate for him to go back to his country for some time,” according to the Hürriyet Daily News, citing a Foreign Ministry source.

Turkey has been one of the most vocal critics of Israel’s response to the Gaza protests and of the US Embassy move, recalling its ambassadors from Tel Aviv and Washington and calling for an emergency meeting of Islamic nations on Friday.

Turkish Ambassador to Israel Kemal Ökem arrived in Ankara on Tuesday and will stay there for consultations for an unspecified length of time.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described Monday’s bloodshed, the deadliest for Palestinians since the 2014 Gaza conflict, as genocide and called Israel a terrorist state.

“They are not committing this genocide for the first time,” he said, adding that the killings “have shown the ugly face of Israel.”

The Turkish government has declared three days of mourning.

Government spokesman Bekir Bozdağ told Parliament that Turkey held the United States equally accountable for Monday’s violence.

“The blood of innocent Palestinians is on the hands of the United States,” he said. “The United States is part of the problem, not the solution.”

Bozdağ said the planned rally in Istanbul “will once again show that the Turkish people will not remain silent in the face of injustice and cruelty, that they defend the victims in the face of the cruel.”

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also said Muslim countries should review their ties with Israel after Monday’s violence.

“Muslim countries should absolutely review their ties with Israel. The Islamic world should display unity and togetherness against these villains. Turkey has not remained silent and will not remain silent to this cruelty,” Yıldırım said at a ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday.

Yıldırım described the crackdown against Palestinian protestors as “Israeli state terror” and accused the US of fueling tension in the Middle East.

He announced that the Turkish government had decided to take measures on the Jerusalem issue, saying they are preparing for an extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul on Friday.

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