Turkey will hold three days of mourning after the massacre of dozens of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers, Turkish government spokesperson Bekir Bozdağ announced on Monday.
Bozdağs statement topped a day of harsh condemnation by Turkish leaders of U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city, a decision which he said made the United States responsible for the Palestinian deaths.
As a result, Turkey will recall its Tel Aviv and Washington ambassadors for consultation, Bozdağ said.
Palestinians protested the opening on Monday of a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, a move that by extension recognises the city as the capital of Israel.
As U.S. and Israeli officials gathered for the new embassy’s opening ceremony, thousands of Palestinians attempted to cross the security fence surrounding the Gaza Strip and were met by fire from Israeli troops, who according to Palestinian officials killed 52 and wounded 2,400 in what the BBC called “the deadliest day of violence since the 2014 Gaza war.”
Tuesday, which marks the anniversary of the “Naqba,” the Palestinian exodus after losing the 1948 war to the state of Israel, is expected to be another day of heavy protests.
Bozdağ’s call for three days of mourning echoes that of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, and signifies a long-running role assumed by the Turkish government as an international ally of the Palestinians.
It was Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who called for and led the 57 member-states of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) in condemning the embassy move after U.S. President Donald Trump announced it last December.
Erdoğan reiterated strong condemnation of the U.S. move today during a speech at the Chatham House think tank in London. Hours later, thousands of Turks took to the streets of Istanbul to protest against events in Israel. Opposition politicians and organisations also chimed in to express their support of Palestinians, a rare unifying cause in Turkey.
Bozdağ said the day of the massacre would become known as “bloody Monday,” and said that the United States and Israel shared responsibility for the deaths.
“The United States has Palestinian blood on its hands,” said Bozdağ before declaring the three days of mourning in solidarity with Palestinians.
Jerusalem’s status has been guaranteed by the international community and United Nations, and the U.S. decision to move its embassy had contravened agreements the United States itself had signed to ensure that guarantee, he said.
Although Israel occupies and claims the entire city as its capital, the lack of international recognition for this stance has until now kept Palestinian hopes alive for a peace agreement that will secure East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.
Previous statements on Monday by Erdoğan and the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs had declared the embassy move to be illegal and detrimental to the peace and stability of the region.
“America has chosen to be part of the problem and not the solution so they have lost their role as international mediator. We cannot stop feeling like being in dark days of pre-world war two,” Erdoğan said during a speech at Chatham House.