Turkish police yesterday used tear gas and water cannon to disperse hundreds of people who tried to storm an air base that houses US troops, hours before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was due in Ankara for talks on Gaza, Reuters reports.
Turkiye, which has stepped up its criticism of Israel as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza has worsened, has seen wide scale protests in support of Palestinians.
Earlier this week, aid agency IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation organised a convoy to travel to the Incirlik air base in the Adana province in southern Turkiye to protest Israeli attacks on Gaza and US support for Israel.
We would like to thank all the Palestine enthusiasts who joined our convoy from all over Türkiye with their vehicles and participated in our rally, extending their support, all the way to Incirlik Air Base. pic.twitter.com/kIaqt5osmH
— IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation (@IHHen) November 6, 2023
Incirlik, which has been used to support the international coalition fighting Daesh in Syria and Iraq, also houses US troops. IHH’s protest called for Incirlik to be closed.
Footage from the protests showed police firing tear gas and using water cannons to disperse crowds waving Turkish and Palestinian flags and chanting slogans. Protesters toppled barricades and clashed with police in riot gear.
Protesters were also seen hurling plastic chairs, rocks, and other items at police, who fired smoke bombs at crowds. Scuffles broke out between the crowds and security forces.
IHH President Bulent Yildirim addressed crowds in Adana and urged them to refrain from attacking police.
“Friends, it is wrong to throw rocks or do similar things because both the police and soldiers would want to go to Gaza and fight and they will go when the time comes,” he said.
“Our rage is huge. We cannot hold it in. But Turkiye is doing what it can,” he added.
The rally comes hours before Blinken is expected to arrive in Ankara for talks on Gaza with his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan today, and after repeated criticism by Ankara towards the West over support for Israel.
For a month, the Israeli army has been launching a devastating bombing campaign against Gaza, killing 9,770 Palestinians, including 4,800 children and 2,550 women, and injuring more than 24,000 others.
Meanwhile, as many as 151 Palestinians have been killed in the occupied West Bank since 7 October and 2,080 have been arrested.