Turkey has recalled its ambassadors to Israel and the United States following the killing of dozens of Palestinian protesters by Israeli forces amid the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
The diplomats, currently stationed in Washington, DC, and Tel Aviv, will return to Turkey for “consultations”, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Monday, adding that three days of national mourning had been declared in solidarity with Palestine.
Ankara also called for an emergency summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to be held this week – possibly on Friday – and a UN General Assembly meeting over Israel’s use of force, Bozdag added.
The move came just hours after Israeli forces fired live ammunition, tear gas and firebombs at Palestinians protesting along the coastal enclave’s fence with Israel, killing at least 55 people and wounding more than 2,700 others.
South Africa also recalled its ambassador to Israel on Monday.
“Given the indiscriminate and grave manner of the latest Israeli attack, the South African government has taken a decision to recall Ambassador Sisa Ngombane with immediate effect until further notice,” South Africa’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“The victims were taking part in a peaceful protest against the provocative inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem,” it said, condemning “violent aggression carried out by Israeli armed forces”.
The demonstrations in Gaza, which coincided with protests against the opening of the US embassy on Monday, are part of a weeks-long Great March of Return movement calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees to the areas they were forcibly expelled from in 1948.
Since the protests began on March 30, Israeli forces have killed at least 104 Palestinians and wounded about 12,000 others.
Speaking later on Friday during a visit to the UK capital, London, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of being a “terrorist state”, saying it was committing a “genocide” against Palestinians.
Referring to the US embassy move, Erdogan said Turkey “will not allow today to be the day Muslim world loses Jerusalem”.
Erdogan’s comments came as thousands of people took to the streets of Turkey’s largest city to protest against the embassy relocation.
At least 6,000 people converged on Monday in central Istanbul to denounce the inauguration ceremony.