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Turkey tells embassies to observe national mourning due to Gaza deaths

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The Turkish Foreign Ministry has sent a diplomatic note to embassies that have failed to lower their flags to half-mast and observe the three days of mourning declared over a deadly strike on a hospital in Gaza that killed hundreds earlier this week, the ANKA news agency reported on Friday.

Situated in the heart of Gaza, the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, managed by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, was hit earlier this week when it was overflowing with Palestinians seeking refuge as a result of a series of Israeli aerial assaults throughout the heavily blockaded Gaza Strip.

The attack killed at least 500 people and injured hundreds, according to Palestinian officials.

Israel and Palestinian militants have accused each other of carrying out the attack.

According to ANKA, the period of mourning was not observed by many of the embassies in Ankara, including those of Germany, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Russia, with flags not lowered to half-mast, while the US diplomatic mission did lower its flags.

In response, the Turkish Foreign Ministry sent a diplomatic note to foreign missions in Turkey regarding the three-day period of national mourning.

Extending its respects to embassies and representative offices of international organizations in Turkey, the ministry informed them about the national mourning.

“… National mourning has been declared in Turkey for a period of three days in order to share the pain of the Palestinian people due to the attacks against civilians by Israel, … which resulted in loss of life and injuries. Within this framework, the flags in Turkey and Turkey’s foreign missions will be flown at half-mast until sunset on Saturday, October 21, 2023,” the note said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday condemned the strike as “the latest example of Israeli attacks devoid of the most basic human values,” in a message on social media.

Large crowds demonstrated in İstanbul, Ankara and other cities, shouting pro-Palestinian sentiments.

Israel has told its citizens to leave Turkey “as soon as possible” amid fears of reprisal and also recalled its diplomats on Thursday.

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