Turkey says Israel must end humanitarian crisis in Gaza for better ties

October 17, 2009 - 0:0

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Friday that Turkey could not remain silent regarding the Israeli attacks on Gaza, urging Israel to end the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza.

Turkey's ties with Israel have been strained over Israel's three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip in December and January that killed nearly 1500 Palestinians, a third of them were children.
Turkey also cannot display a military picture with Israel in such a sensitive atmosphere, added Davutoglu who held a press conference at Ankara's International Esenboga Airport prior to his departure for Bosnia-Herzegovina.
“Unfortunately, the Gaza offensive dealt a big blow to peace efforts,” in the Middle East, Davutoglu told reporters.
When reporters recalled the recent problems between Turkey and Israel, Davutoglu said that Turkey was a mediator between Israel and Syria these times last year, adding that however, Turkey could not remain silent what was happening in Gaza now.
Davutoglu said that Turkey wanted children not to get killed and peace to be restored in Gaza. He added that it did not mean being against Israel and it was a humanitarian situation.
Commenting on the uneasiness of Israel over a TV series on state-run TRT channel that tells Gaza offensive last year, Davutoglu said that TRT was an autonomous institution, and his ministry had not given any official consultation regarding the TV series.
“When there is a return to the track of peace, these relations of trust (with Israel) will be re-established on the same level as before,” he said.
“Ending the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza, reviving peace efforts — both on the Palestinian and Syrian track, and most importantly — reinstating a prevailing spirit of peace in the region... this is what we want,” he said.
A UN report last month found that Israel “punished and terrorized” civilians in Gaza in a disproportionate attack in its three-week war on the territory earlier this year.
Israeli forces deliberately attacked civilians, failed to take precautions to minimize loss of civilian life and cited strong evidence Israeli forces committed “grave breaches” of the Geneva Convention, the 575-page report noted.
Israel has rejected a cooperation with the Goldstone team or had not allowed it onto its territory.
The firing of white phosphorous shells and the use of high explosive artillery shells were listed as “violations of humanitarian law.”
The report also said UN Security Council should refers Israel - if it fails to probe crimes properly- to the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor in The Hague within six months.
Gaza is also considered under Israeli occupation as Israel controls air, sea and land access to the Strip.
The Rafah crossing with Egypt, Gaza's sole border crossing that bypasses Israel, rarely opens as Egypt is under immense U.S. and Israeli pressure to keep the crossing shut.
Human rights groups, both international and Israeli, slammed Israel's siege of Gaza, branding it “collective punishment.”
Davutoglu visits two Balkan countries Albania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the next two days, Anadolu news agency reported.
In Bosnia, Davutoglu will meet Haris Silajdzic, member of the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and EU's Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Valentin Inzko, as well as leaders of political parties, Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
He will also inaugurate a cultural center and deliver a speech at a conference on “Ottoman heritage and Muslim communities in today's Balkans”, the statement said.
In Albania, Davutoglu will have meetings with President Bamir Topi, Prime Minister Sali Berisha, Foreign Minister Ilir Meta, and Parliament Speaker Jozefina Topalli, it said.
(Source: World Bulletin)