As IDF forces entered Gaza on Thursday night in the latest phase of Israel’s ongoing Operation Protective Edge, violent riots broke out around Turkey threatening the local Jewish community and Israeli institutions. The head of the IHH terror-tied humanitarian NGO behind the infamous Mavi Marmara Flotilla, Bulent Yildirim, told local television station Haber Turk that “Turkish Jews will pay dearly” for Israel’s actions.
“Israel is acting like a spoiled child,” Yildirim said. “Jewish tourists, don’t dare come to Turkey. Tonight and tomorrow we are going to hold a different kind of protest, we do not have patience anymore.”
“The Zionists are putting the future of the Jews in danger, we can not hold back our youngsters anymore,” he said.
At the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul and the Israeli Embassy in Ankara crowds of protesters gathered and shouted anti-Israel slogans.
“Fight! Martyrdom!” they were heard saying in Istanbul. Protesters attempted to enter the building where the Consulate is located three times and lit a fire nearby. Haber Turk described the scene as a “battlefield environment” and rioters were seen throwing stones and bottles at police.
In Ankara an Israeli flag was removed by rioters and replaced by Palestinian and Turkish flags. Police were able to push the crowd back at times. Among the rioters were some of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliament members, according to local reports. After some time, police used tear gas to confront the protesters.
Ankara’s mayor, Melih Gökçek was quick to add fuel to the flames, tweeting about the Embassy, “It will be taken… The despicable murderers’ Consulate has to be kicked out of Turkey. We do not want an Embassy in Turkey of the murderers!”
A Turkish Jewish activist who is familiar with the situation on the ground told The Algemeiner that the environment is not safe for Turkish Jews.
“The Turkish Jewish Community which has been living in Turkey peacefully for over 500 years, is in grave danger for their lives after the escalation of the events in the Middle East,” he said.
The activist, who did not wish to be named, said that anti-Semitic and anti-Israel elements in Turkey have been “given a free pass” by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.
“The escalation has reached a peak with the comments of the head of IHH who has pointed to the Jews in Turkey as fair targets,” he said.
As tensions rose in Israel and Gaza over the past weeks, Turkey’s Jews have faced a barrage of threats and abuse.
Two days ago, local newspaper Yeni Akit, affiliated with Erdogan, called on the country’s Jewish community to apologize for the casualties of Israel’s operation in Gaza. In an open letter to Turkey’s chief rabbi, correspondent Faruk Köse wrote, “You have lived comfortably among us for 500 years and gotten rich at our expense. Is this your gratitude – killing Muslims? Erdogan, demand that the community leader apologize!”
Last week popular singer Yıldız Tilbe tweeted praise for Hitler. “May God bless Hitler” she said. “If God allows, it will again be Muslims who will bring the end of those Jews, it is near, near.”
Turkish Jews condemned Tilbe’s remarks and requested an apology. But the apology never came.
Ankara mayor, Gökçek, who is a senior AKP member, praised the singer’s Gaza tweets. “I applaud you Yıldız Tilbe for the messages you deliver to many of your colleagues and especially to the Turkish nation,” he wrote.
See photos of the events below:
A Palestinian flag atop the Israeli Embassy in Ankara. Photo: Screenshot.
Anti-Israel protesters burn an Israeli flag.