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AKP’s Islamist ally calls for expulsion of Israeli diplomats from Turkey

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Amid the rising anti-Israeli sentiment in Turkey due to ongoing Israeli attacks on the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, the radical Islamist Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR), an ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has called for the expulsion of Israeli diplomats from the country, Voice of America Turkish edition reported.

HÜDA-PAR has displayed one of the strongest reactions to the ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza, which have so far claimed more than 3,700 lives.

Israel began pounding Gaza after Hamas militants carried out an unprecedented surprise attack in Israel on Oct. 7 that claimed more than 1,400 lives.

HÜDA-PAR, which decided to hold a daily “resistance watch” in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır in protest of the Israeli attacks on Gaza, held its first such protest on Wednesday evening.

Şeyhmus Tanrıkulu, a member of the party’s general administrative board who spoke during the protest, called on Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to file criminal complaints against Israeli state officials for committing war crimes in Gaza and to expel their diplomats from Turkey.

Accusing the AKP government of remaining silent in the wake of Israeli “atrocities” in Gaza, Tanrıkulu said, “Why are you still waiting? First, drive those oppressors away from our country.”

He called on political parties and nongovernmental organizations to exert pressure on the AKP government to take action against Israel.

Founded in 2012 on the ashes of the outlawed Kurdish Hizbullah, an extremist Sunni group that emerged in southeastern Turkey in 1985, HÜDA-PAR won three seats in the Turkish parliament in the May elections, thanks to its alliance with the AKP.

The party’s secretary-general, Şahzade Demir, held a joint press briefing in parliament last week with Hamas’s Turkey representative, Musa Akkari, expressing open support for Hamas in its conflict with Israel.

Anti-Israeli protests gained momentum in Turkey due to a strike on a hospital in Gaza on Tuesday evening that claimed hundreds of lives.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas, which runs the territory, accused Israel of being behind the strike. The Israeli army blamed it on a misfired rocket by Hamas ally the Islamic Jihad, which has described the accusations as “lies.”

The Turkish government and opposition parties condemned the attack on the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, holding Israel responsible for it.

The Hamas-Israeli conflict came at a time when Turkey was just normalizing its relations with Israel after years-long tension.

Bilateral relations began to fray in 2008 following an Israeli military operation in Gaza.

Relations then froze in 2010 after the death of 10 civilians following an Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, part of a Turkish flotilla trying to breach a blockade by carrying aid into the Gaza enclave.

A brief reconciliation lasted from 2016 until 2018, when Turkey withdrew its ambassador and expelled Israel’s over the killing of Palestinians during a conflict with Gaza.

Following months of diplomatic warming, Israel and Turkey announced in August 2022 the full restoration of relations and the return of ambassadors to both countries.

Israel appointed Irit Lillian as its ambassador to Turkey, while Turkey named Şakir Özkan Torunlar as its Israeli envoy.

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