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‘Peace Academics’ call on Turkey to suspend relations with Israel due to Gaza bloodshed

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A group in Turkey known as the “Peace Academics” has called on the Turkish government to suspend military, commercial and diplomatic relations with Israel, in a joint declaration in which they condemned Israel’s ongoing attacks on the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.

A total of 190 academics signed the declaration calling on the international community, politicians and the media to take a stance against “massacres committed by Israel,” urging the Turkish government to cut off all ties with Israel until it ends its occupation of Gaza and peace is achieved.

According to the health ministry in Gaza, more than 10,000 people — mostly civilians — have been killed in more than four weeks of war in Gaza.

The Israeli attacks started after Hamas militants killed more than 1,400 people in Israel— also mostly civilians — and took over 240 hostages in an unprecedented attack on Oct. 7.

The academics accused Israel of unlawfully occupying Palestinian lands for 56 years, keeping the Gaza Strip under blockade since 2006 and committing a war crime against Palestinians before the eyes of the world.

Describing the killing of at least 1,400 civilians in Israel by Hamas militants as a “massacre,” the academics said the Hamas attack prompted Israel to resort to the “worst kind of state terrorism” it has committed thus far.

They also referred to the Israeli academics, journalists and opinion leaders who are the victims of a witch-hunt and targeted by their own government for voicing their objections to the Israeli attacks on Gaza.

The academics said they know very well how governments engage in methods to silence their critics in times of war as they were also subjected to similar treatment when they opposed the Turkish government’s military operations in the predominantly Kurdish region of the country in 2016.

The 190 academics are among the more than 1,000 academics who referred to themselves as the “Peace Academics” and signed a declaration in early 2016 calling on the government to halt operations by security forces in southeastern Turkey, restore peace to the nation and return to the negotiating table to restart shelved talks to find a peaceful solution to the so-called Kurdish issue.

The move attracted widespread criticism from the government. Many of the signatories were fired, sentenced to prison or were subjected to overseas travel bans.

After the initial signatories were targeted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, more academics signed it in solidarity, with the total number exceeding 2,000.

In July 2019 Turkey’s Constitutional Court said the rights of the Peace Academics had been violated. The decision was made possible by Constitutional Court President Zühtü Arslan’s tie-breaking vote. The top court also ordered the government to pay TL 9,000 in damages to each of the nine academics who had appealed.

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