President Gul warns Israel against ground offensive in Gaza

ANKARA (CIHAN)- Turkish President Abdullah Gul, releasing a written statement on Friday, said Israel must halt its airstrikes on the Gaza Strip immediately, adding that Israel must definitely not resort to a ground offensive in the Palestinian zone.

More than 85 Palestinians have been killed, including dozens of civilians, and over 300 have been wounded in the Israeli aerial bombardment that began on Tuesday, Palestinian medical officials said on Friday.

Speaking about the airstrikes in Gaza, President Gul said the Israeli attacks on Gaza are not appropriate behavior for our century, warning that the clashes risk spilling over into other areas.

“As the recent great humanitarian tragedy and grief caused by the recent Israeli airstrikes has shown, unfortunately, the spiral of violence in the world has been deepening in these weeks. From Iraq to Yemen, Syria to Libya, Palestine to Afghanistan and Ukraine to Somalia Violence, terror and armed clashes pose a great risk to peace and stability in the world. And this increase leads to irrecoverable humanitarian tragedies. These will never befit humanity or our century,” Gul stated.

Gul also called on all parties in the violence to solve their problems through diplomacy, dialogue and political mechanisms, adding that if they do not, the situation will be a hazard to all.

The escalating violence between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza comes at a time when Turkey and Israel have been working toward improving ties that were soured after Israeli commandos stormed a pro-Palestinian aid ship in 2010, killing eight Turks and one Turkish-American.

Israel apologized to Turkey for the deaths and agreed to pay compensation under a US-brokered arrangement in 2013. Turkish officials said in March the sides were close to reaching a compensation deal that would lead to a restoration of ties.

Late Thursday, speaking during his campaign for the presidential elections in August, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Israel, “You have to end this oppression. As long as it does not end, a normalizing of ties between Turkey and Israel is not possible.”