In Türkiye, thousands of people took to the streets in the middle of the night to protest Israel’s attack on the Baptist hospital in the Gaza Strip. Citizens marched in the cities of Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Erzurum, Kocaeli. In Istanbul and Ankara, marches headed toward the Israeli consulate and embassy. In the capital Ankara, protesters attempted to enter the embassy but were prevented by security forces.
On the second day of the protests, the US announced to close its consulate in the southern city of Adana to public service. Stating it expected ongoing protests in the coming weeks, the US embassy in Türkiye also declared to minimize its public activities.
We listened to the demands of the protesters in Istanbul. Here’s what some of them say.
Ilhami Türk, self-employed : “Expel the Israeli ambassador”
We are here to protest the latest acts of the terrorist state, Israel. The international community has to be more active. Countries like Venezuela and Colombia, which the Israeli ambassador declared persona non grata, set a good example. We expect the same from the Turkish state and others. We are facing a genocide and all countries must not only condemn it, but also impose sanctions against Israel.
Kader Beydilli, teacher: “Biden and Netanyahu are accomplices”
I think that those who did this have neither religion, nor nation, nor race. If they had suffered this oppression, I would be here to support them. Countries must put aside double standards and take a clearer position. On the other hand, President Biden ‘s visit to Israel for me is a meeting with his accomplice Netanyahu.
Isa Mucahit, worker: “Israel only understands the language the army speaks”
Until leaders, especially Arabs, present an adequate reaction, our marches here are not worth much more than creating public opinion. The leaders of the states have to present concrete acts in response to Israel’s actions. Because the only language that Israel understands is that of force, the one that the army speaks.
Bufeyna Hafez, Egyptian: “The US is sending military aircraft and soldiers – what are we waiting for?”
I am Egyptian and I live in Istanbul. I am with Palestine because Palestine is part of our religion. The United States sends its soldiers and its military flights to Israel. Why are we waiting? They are going to finish them off if we don’t do anything.
Ahmet Safi, Palestinian film student: “Those who side with Israel stand on the wrong side of history”
I am here because I am human, because I care about human lives, because I want to protest against war crimes. I want to ask: are Palestinian lives worth less? The United States supported the apartheid regime in South Africa, while Nelson Mandela was with us. Today, the United States supports apartheid in Israel. If you stay silent today, you stay on the wrong side of history.