UPDATE - 'Turkey will not accept Israeli persecution, even if entire world ignores it'

UPDATE - 'Turkey will not accept Israeli persecution, even if entire world ignores it'

President Erdogan addresses ruling party meeting virtually


By Burak Bir, Ali Murat Alhas, and Jeyhun Aliyev

ANKARA (AA) - Calling on the world to stand against Israeli attacks on Palestine, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey will not accept Israeli persecution, even if the whole world ignores it.

"Those who share Israel's bloodshed by choosing to remain silent or backing it for political reasons and ideological leanings should know one day it will be their turn," Erdogan said while addressing a virtual meeting of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.

"It is imperative that the UN Security Council takes steps to ensure peace in Jerusalem in line with decisions of the General Assembly," he said.

On Israeli attacks, Erdogan said Turkey is ready to actively support any initiative by the UN, and take responsibility for peace.

If the Organization of Islamic Cooperation does not take a "concrete" stance against Israeli attacks, it will discredit its own existence, the Turkish president added.

"If we do not immediately stop Israel's aggression in Palestine, and especially in Jerusalem, tomorrow everyone will find themselves the target of this brutal mentality," Erdogan noted.

He went on to say that "this terrorist state," which tries to plunder a city like Jerusalem, which houses the holy places of Muslims, Christians, and Jews, "has crossed all limits."

"Resisting (Israel's) aggression on Palestinian cities and Jerusalem is a debt of honor of all humanity," Erdogan added.

The Muslim bloc has called an emergency ministerial meeting on Sunday to discuss Israeli attacks on Palestinian territories.

Tensions have been running high in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem over the past month as Israeli settlers swarmed in following a court order for the eviction of Palestinian families in the area.

Most recently, tensions further escalated, moving from East Jerusalem to Gaza after Palestinian resistance groups there vowed to retaliate against Israeli assaults on Al-Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Jarrah if they were not halted.

At least 122 Palestinians, including 31 children and 20 women, have been killed since then, according to Palestinian health officials, while 900 others have been injured, in addition to heavy damages to residential buildings across the enclave.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed the entire city in 1980, a move that has never been recognized by the international community.

- COVID-19 situation

On COVID-19 measures, Erdogan noted that Turkey will gradually begin lifting lockdown restrictions starting next week.

"We will start implementing our normalization calendar as of Monday," he said.

The restrictions will be eased in phases until the end of May and significantly as of June.

He praised the country's state-of-the-art health care facilities and social security system for preventing a crisis.

Turkey has so far registered 44,301 deaths from COVID-19, while over 4.89 million people have recovered from the disease. There have been over 5 million confirmed cases in the country.

Turkey has administered over 25.6 million coronavirus jabs since launching a mass vaccination campaign on Jan. 14, according to official figures.

More than 14.8 million people have received their first doses, over 10.7 million people have been fully vaccinated.

Turkey began a 17-day lockdown that will last until May 17 and cover this week's Eid al-Fitr holidays.

The restrictions led to a drop in 80 of Turkey's provinces on May 1-7, according to the latest Health Ministry statistics.

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