Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Israel of committing a massacre in Gaza in a phone call with Pope Francis on Thursday as he called on the international community to raise its voice to the “humanitarian tragedy” unfolding in the Palestinian enclave, according to the president’s office.
Erdoğan’s office announced on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday, that the president told Pope Francis that the Israeli attacks on Gaza, which he said have no place in any religion, have “reached the level of a massacre,” adding that the silence of the international community about the increasing civilian death toll in the enclave is “a shame for humanity.”
Israel launched a massive air offensive on Gaza, which is home to more than 2 million Palestinians after Hamas militants from Gaza killed 1,400 people in a brazen attack inside Israel on Oct. 7 and abducted more than 200.
In excess of 6,500 civilians, half of whom are children, have been killed so far in the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, according to local officials.
Erdoğan also said permanent peace in the region, which hosts the holy places of three monotheistic religions, will only be possible with the establishment of an independent, sovereign and geographically integrated state of Palestine on the basis of its 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Erdoğan, who is a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, was relatively moderate in the beginning of the Hamas-Israeli conflict this time, asking both sides to avoid harming civilians.
His discourse has become harsher as the civilian death toll in Gaza has risen, prompting many people across Turkey to take to the streets in protest of Israel.
In a controversial move on Wednesday he said Hamas is not a terrorist organization but rather “liberators” fighting for their land.