“There will be an election in Israel in January. There must not be such a bloody investment in the election,” the Turkish president said as part of a series of public condemnations of Israel by Turkish officials for the offensive Israel launched on Gaza on Wednesday.
This latest surge in the long-running conflict between Israel and Gaza began when the former killed Hamas military mastermind Ahmed Al-Jaabari in a precision airstrike on his car on Wednesday. Israel then began shelling the coastal enclave from land, air and sea. Three days of Israeli airstrikes have left 21 Palestinians dead: eight militants and 13 civilians, among them six children and a pregnant woman carrying twins.
A Hamas rocket killed three Israelis in the town of Kiryat Malakhi on Thursday morning.
Gül described the Gaza violence as a “dangerous escalation” and said it is impossible for the world to ignore the crisis. He recalled the 2008-2009 offensive launched by Israel on Gaza, noting that it also took place just weeks before an Israeli election.
Israel's Operation Cast Lead of 2008-2009 began with a week of air attacks and shelling, followed by a land invasion of the blockaded coastal strip, sealed off at sea by the Israeli navy. Some 1,400 Palestinians were killed while 13 Israelis died.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in his first remarks about the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza, strongly denounced Israel and linked what he called Israel's “barbaric position” to election tactics. He also recalled that Operation Cast Lead had been launched in the lead up to an Israeli election.
“As you know, there will be an election next month in Israel. And, as you see, Israel has started pounding Gaza with bombs for what are fabricated reasons,” Erdoğan told reporters. He also called on world powers, meaning the US, to abandon a policy of bashing Hamas as the chief culprit in the escalation of the crisis.