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Turkey’s Erdogan says U.N. must act to halt Gaza conflict

erdogan hand on heart
Turkish President Tayyp Erdogan

President Tayyip Erdogan called on the United Nations and Muslim countries on Friday to halt the worst fighting between Israel and Gaza militants in years, saying Turkey would support any U.N. initiative to end the violence.

Repeating accusations that Israel’s actions in Jerusalem and Gaza showed it to be a “terrorist state”, Erdogan said he had discussed the conflict with the leaders or governments of 19 countries.

“We invite every state and every institution, regardless of their faith and origin, to act as soon as possible against Israel’s attacks,” Erdogan said in a televised address.

Israel pummelled Gaza with artillery fire and air strikes on Friday, killing 13 people including three children, local health officials said, as it targeted Palestinian militant tunnels to try to stop persistent rocket attacks on Israeli towns.

At least 122 people, including 51 women and children, have been killed in several days of strikes on Gaza, Palestinian medical officials say. Eight people have been killed in Israel.

Gaza’s ruling Hamas group launched the rocket attacks at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

“It is imperative that the U.N. Security Council rapidly take steps to ensure peace and tranquility in Jerusalem,” Erdogan said.

He said the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which styles itself as the collective voice of the Muslim world, should act. “If (it) does not immediately take a concrete and effective attitude, it will be deemed to have denied its existence,” Erdogan said.

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