Analysis by Khalid Amayreh in occupied E. Jerusale
Palestinians have welcomed recent statements by top Turkish officials, criticizing the harsh Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has pushed the coastal territory’s 1.5 million inhabitants to the brink of starvation.
Last week, Prime Minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan said the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were facing a real “humanitarian tragedy.”
“Palestine is already an open air prison. People living in Gaza are faced with severe difficulties in the supply of water, electricity, medicine and food. These people face a humanitarian tragedy.” Erdogan told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) at a weekly meeting in Parliament. “We have difficulties in understanding this blockade.”
Erdogan also denounced Israel for claiming that the harsh blockade of Gaza was justified by the firing of homemade projectiles into Israel.
“They (Israeli officials) fail to explain how many Israelis died in these attacks. It is not possible to accept such acts that to punish 2 million people. It is not understandable to collectively punish a community because some of them are doing wrong things.”
This week, a Turkish delegation comprising six representatives of major Turkish charities arrived in Gaza via Egypt to express solidarity with the Palestinian people and identify the plight of Gazans. The delegates said they were happy that they were able to make it to Gaza, despite the Israeli blockade.
One delegate was quoted as saying that Turks sympathized with the Palestinians in many ways and that they would organize certain activities in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
But this is not enough from a truly democratic and truly sovereign Muslim country that, unlike most Arab countries in the region, refuses to be at the White House’s beck and call.
I believe Turkey can and should do more to help, or more correctly, save the Palestinian people from deadly Zionist designs aimed at destroying the Palestinian people through a series of waves of massacres, mini-genocides and famines.
Facts speak for themselves. In recent years, Israel has killed and maimed tens of thousands of Palestinians, destroyed whatever semblance of an economy the Palestinians had and reduced Palestinian towns and villages to virtual concentration camps.
More to the point, Israel continues unabated to expand Jewish colonies in the West Bank, especially in occupied East Jerusalem, effectively killing whatever remaining possibility for the creation of a viable Palestinian state.
This happens while Israeli officials and spokespeople don’t stop claiming that Israel supports Palestinian statehood and is striving to achieve peace with the Palestinians.
The world, especially Turkey, must not be duped and cheated by these lies. A country that truly aspires for peace doesn’t kill a hundred Palestinian men, women and children for every Israeli killed by so-called rockets that are a little more than fire crackers.
Moreover, desire for true peace is markedly incompatible with settlement expansion and land theft.
Turkey has a special historical and religious responsibility toward Palestine. There are tens of thousands of Palestinians of Turkish origin living in the occupied territories and are equal-opportunity recipients of Israeli bullets, shells and bombs.
Moreover, Turkey, which has strong political, military and economic relations with Israel, is in a position to help the Palestinians, even in pro-active manner, without damaging Turkish relations with the EU and the United States. Israel needs Turkey more than Turkey needs Israel.
In addition, Israel continues to undermine Turkish interests in many ways. According to reliable press reports, Israel is already maintaining a large but inconspicuous Mossad base in the self-rule Iraqi Kurdistan. Israel is also constantly inciting Kurdish separatists against the Arabs and Turks. In 2006, Israeli intelligence held secret “consultations” with several Turkish intelligence officers and reportedly incited them against the Erdogan government. Israeli leaders also privately hailed the massive demonstrations against the AK party.
It is not important what Israeli leaders say in this regard. What is more important is what Israel is doing.
As to what Turkey can and should do to help her Palestinian brothers, Ankara can always utilizes its connections with the West, especially the United States, to make sure that Israel put an end to its war crimes against an unprotected people whose only crime is its enduring determination to survive in spite of Zionism and in spite of history.
At the practical level, Turkey should maintain a permanent representative in Gaza City to monitor Israeli crimes as they happen. Turkey shouldn’t trust the Zionist-controlled or Zionist-inspired media to communicate the plight of the Palestinians to more than 70 million Turks who love and care about Palestine.
Moreover, Turkey should take a more pro-active role in humanitarian efforts in Gaza, and if possible in the West Bank as well, since meeting the humanitarian needs of the starved and impoverished Palestinians would enhance their ability to withstand Israeli oppression and predispose them to recovering their rights from Zionism’s covetous hands.
But the most important step Turkey should do is to make it abundantly clear to the terrorist Zionist state that Turkey would no longer play deaf and dumb and look the other way if Israel continues to perpetrate such crimes as penning-in and starving millions of innocent civilians for political reasons.