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Erdoğan urges Israel, Palestinians to exercise restraint, opposes threats to Al-Aqsa Mosque

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gives a press conference during the NATO Summit in Vilnius on July 12, 2023. Ludovic MARIN / AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday urged Israel and the Palestinians to exercise restraint and emphasized that Turkey will continue to oppose any attempts against the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a significant religious site in Jerusalem, in the wake of rocket attacks launched from the Gaza Strip and infiltration of Israeli towns by militants, leading Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare that the country is “at war.”

Speaking at a Justice and Development Party (AKP) meeting in Ankara, Erdoğan, who strongly supports the Palestinian cause, urged Israelis and Palestinians to “stay away from impulsive steps that will escalate tensions.”

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that Israel is “at war” following a devastating surprise attack by Hamas on Saturday.

“Citizens of Israel, we are at war. Not an operation, not a round [of fighting], at war!” Netanyahu said in a filmed statement. The Israeli leader vowed to exact an “unprecedented price” from Hamas and confirmed that at least 22 Israelis were killed and hundreds wounded in the attacks.

The statement was released several hours after fighting broke out, with Hamas firing thousands of rockets at Israel and gunmen crossing the Gaza border and raiding several Israeli towns.

The attacks come on the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, a conflict that took place from Oct. 6 to 25, 1973, between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria. The war began with a surprise attack by the Arab coalition on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur and resulted in a military stalemate, eventually leading to the Camp David Accords and the first recognition of Israel by an Arab country, Egypt.

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