Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), has said he is ready to travel to the Palestinian enclave of Gaza and fight there against Israel amid its ongoing airstrikes on the city, the Diken news website reported.
The 75-year-old Bahçeli, an ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has been one of the most outspoken defenders of the Palestinians since Israel launched retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza in response to a brazen attack by Hamas militants on Oct. 7 that left at least 1,400 people dead in Israel.
The MHP leader, who spoke at a party meeting on Tuesday, said everyone can call him “dishonest” if he does not travel to Gaza to fight against Israel and protect the children there if the government wants him to, the nation supports it and circumstances require it.
He said he would respond to the Israeli rockets with slingshots if necessary.
Nearly 6,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign against the besieged enclave after the attack by Hamas inside Israel on Oct. 7, according to health officials in Gaza.
Bahçeli also reiterated a call for Turkey to take military action for Gaza if a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel is not achieved within 24 hours.
Another 24-hour deadline Bahçeli gave to Israel on Saturday in a statement he made on the X social media platform had already expired, leading to some criticism and ridicule on social media targeting the nationalist leader.
Criticizing the international community for its silence on the Israeli attacks on Gaza, Bahçeli said,” If a ceasefire is not achieved within 24 hours and the [Israeli] attacks do not stop, Turkey should take quick action and take the necessary steps in line with its historical, humanitarian and religious obligations.”
Some social media users accused him of “playing to the audience,” while others said if Bahçeli were sincere about his call, then he should break his alliance with Erdoğan for not sending Turkish troops to Gaza.
Although Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause and condemns Israel for the civilian deaths in Gaza in its ongoing strikes, it has announced no plans to get militarily involved in the Israel-Hamas war.