Turkey on Wednesday denounced clashes that erupted inside Israel’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying Israel had crossed a “red line”.
“Turkey cannot stay silent in the face of these attacks. Trampling on the Al-Aqsa mosque is our red line,” Erdogan said during a dinner for those breaking daytime fasting, a practice for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“Palestinians are not alone,” he added.
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Israeli police clashed with Palestinians inside Jerusalem’s holy site Wednesday, sparking an exchange of rockets and air strikes, in flaring violence as the Jewish Passover overlaps with Ramadan.
Erdogan’s comments followed earlier criticism made by his Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
“We condemn these attacks,” Cavusoglu said on the margins of a NATO gathering in Brussels.
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“Normalisation with Israel has begun, but our commitment cannot be at the expense of the Palestinian cause and our principles,” he added, noting that “these attacks have exceeded the limit”.
Armed police in riot gear stormed the mosque’s prayer hall before dawn, with the goal of dislodging “law-breaking youths and masked agitators” who had barricaded themselves inside following evening prayers.
The Al-Aqsa mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, is a site sacred to both Islam and Judaism in the Old City of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem that has long been a lightning rod in Israeli-Palestinian relations.