Assailant takes hostages in Gaza protest near Istanbul


“I CAN ONLY PRAY”

Relatives of the hostages questioned why the assailant would target workers in Türkiye – a country strongly supportive of the Palestinian cause – to show his solidarity with the people of Gaza.

“He supposedly does this for Islam, but they are the ones who harm Islam the most,” Sedat Degirmenci, whose son-in-law was taken hostage, told AFP.

“If you do this for Palestine, go and fight there,” added Cigdem Aydemir, the mother of a 26-year-old woman taken hostage at the plant.

Like other relatives, Aydemir was following the hostage-taker’s Instagram account for updates about the situation.

The account became inaccessible by Thursday evening.

“What does my daughter have to do with this?” said Aydemir. “I can only pray.”

The war in Gaza was triggered by Hamas’s Oct 7 attack on Israel that resulted in the deaths of around 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Militants also seized about 250 hostages. Israel says 132 remain in Gaza, including at least 29 people who are believed to have been killed.

Following the deadliest attack in Israel’s history, its military launched an offensive on Gaza. It has killed at least 27,019 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

ERDOGAN CRITICISM

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has emerged as one of the Muslim world’s harshest critics of Israel because of the massive civilian death toll from its campaign against Hamas militants.

He has branded Israel a “terrorist state” and compared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler.

Erdogan has also accused the United States of supporting “genocide” in Gaza.

Erdogan’s comments reflect widespread anger across the predominantly Muslim but officially secular country at the United States for its traditional support for Israel.

Hundreds of protesters stormed a southeastern Turkish air base used by US and British forces on the eve of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Ankara in November.

Turkish online campaigns are also trying to organise boycotts of US products such as Coca-Cola and the coffee chain Starbucks.



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