Erdoğan condemns Israel over latest deadly Gaza operation

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Eroğan on Monday condemned Israel for "killing children and babies" as he spoke on the latest deadly bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

Erdoğan’s remarks arrive amid efforts by the Turkish president to normalise ties with Israel following a decade of tensions. Relations have been fractured by Turkey’s condemnation of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, Turkish support for Hamas and disputes over natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean, among other issues.

Turkey’s ties with Israel "are back on track," and serve to "defend the rights of our Palestinian brothers and sisters," stater-run Anadolu news agency cited the Turkish president as saying at a conference of Turkish diplomats in Ankara.

At least 15 children were among the 44 people killed in the Gaza Strip in three days of Israeli bombardment, Al Jazeera cited Palestinian health ministry officials as saying on Monday. Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad armed group declared a truce on Sunday, that appeared to be holding on Monday morning, it said.

"Al-Aqsa Mosque is our red line," the Turkish president added. "There is no excuse for killing children, babies in swaddling clothes. Turkey stands by its Gazan brothers."

Erdoğan been an outspoken critic of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians.

Bilateral ties between Turkey and Israel fell into crisis in 2010 after Israeli soldiers raided a Gaza-bound humanitarian aid flotilla, killing ten pro-Palestinian activists aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog held talks with President Erdoğan in Ankara in March, marking the first visit by an Israeli head of state since 2007. The two leaders expressed their willingness to improve relations based on mutual respect.

The countries in May agreed to strengthen bilateral ties, outlining measures for a “new chapter” in relations during a visit to Jerusalem by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu with his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid.

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