Israel committed all possible war crimes in Gaza - M5 Dergi
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Israel committed all possible war crimes in Gaza

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As Israel’s ground offensive in Rafah is feared to lead to a further humanitarian catastrophe, Türkiye vows to use diplomacy, raise voice at international platforms and continue sending humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Israel will have committed all possible war crimes in Gaza by the time the conflict ends, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Öncü Keçeli said Wednesday, reiterating Türkiye’s strong opposition to the expected Israeli assault on Palestine’s last refuge, Rafah.

During a press briefing in the capital Ankara, Keçeli reiterated that Türkiye aims to achieve a permanent cease-fire, ensure humanitarian aid to Gazans and enter a path toward a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Türkiye has sent 34,000 tons of humanitarian aid, including 32 ambulances, through Egypt,” Keçeli said, thanking the Egyptian authorities and indicating that part of the aid was sent to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). He also said that Türkiye provides 15% of the organization’s flour needs. “This corresponds to approximately 26 tons of dry food. We delivered this aid to UNRWA at Mersin Port in the past weeks.”

Financial aid has also been stepped up recently, he continued.

Keçeli’s words came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday urged all “conscientious” countries to protect UNRWA, which he said provided a “lifeline for 6 million refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.”

The UNRWA has been in the headlines for several weeks because Israel claimed a dozen of its employees were involved in the acts of Hamas on Oct. 7.

As a result, several Western countries, including the two largest donors, the United States and Germany, temporarily suspended payments to the aid organization.

Keçeli said that the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) provided 127,000 tons of potable water to Gaza, while the Health Ministry is also coordinating the transfer of patients and their relatives from Gaza through Cairo to Türkiye, the latest of which is expected to take place today.

Work on setting up a field hospital in Gaza is also continuing and is at its latest stage with equipment being sent to the area.

The Foreign Ministry has also arranged the evacuation of 1,359 Turkish and Turkish Cypriot citizens and their relatives.

On the increasing tensions in Rafah, Keçeli said: “This constitutes a crime in terms of international law and humanitarian law. It needs to stop as soon as possible.”

Keçeli also reiterated that in 2022, the U.N. General Assembly requested an International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion relating to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

“The views of some countries were requested. As Türkiye, we also prepared a written statement. These findings will be shared on Feb. 27,” Keçeli said. He also touched on South Africa’s complaint against Israel in the ICJ in The Hague, alleging that its assault on Gaza amounts to a breach of the Genocide Convention.

The court has yet to rule on the underlying issue, but on Jan. 26 it ordered Israel to ensure in the interim that it takes action to protect Palestinian civilians from further harm and allow humanitarian aid. Israel’s campaign has continued, however.

“It is important that this decision can be implemented. There are already several decisions against Israel,” Keçeli pointed out.

He also said Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan will attend the Munich Security Conference after hosting his Georgian and Hungarian counterparts in Ankara on Thursday and will attend the G-20 foreign minister meeting in Rio de Janeiro where he will bring up Gaza again.

In Munich, Fidan is expected to hold 20 meetings with counterparts and officials.

Since the beginning of the ground operation launched by Israel on the Gaza Strip on Oct. 27, residents have been urged to move from the northern and central areas of the territory to the south, under the pretext of them being safe zones, yet they have not been spared from house, car and hospital bombings. The death toll among Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war has surpassed 28,000.

Türkiye and Islamic countries have since harshly criticized the West for turning a blind eye and even supporting Israel’s strikes on Gaza. Humanitarian organizations have similarly been calling for a cease-fire and the passage of aid to the strip.

Türkiye has been trying to facilitate diplomatic channels to push for a cease-fire amid incessant Israeli airstrikes, which killed thousands and destroyed hospitals, homes, schools, marketplaces, churches, mosques, refugee camps and more. Furthermore, Türkiye also took part in forming a contact group at a summit of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), assigned to take international action to stop the conflict in Gaza and help achieve lasting peace.

5 tours around the globe

Speaking on Fidan’s busy schedule, Keçeli said that since taking over the office in June, the minister traveled 212,950 kilometers (132,320 miles) by the end of 2023, which equals roughly five tours around the world.

“We hosted dozens of guests in Ankara and Istanbul, eight of them were foreign ministers,” he added, saying that Fidan made eight visits abroad.

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