Turkey's President Erdogan to meet Hamas chief in Istanbul

by IANS |



Istanbul, April 20 (IANS/DPA) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to meet militant organisation Hamas' political bureau head Ismail Haniyeh on Saturday in Istanbul, to discuss the ongoing Gaza war, state broadcaster TRT reports.


Further details about the nature of discussions between the two were immediately unclear. Haniyeh on Wednesday met Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in Qatar for talks on a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of hostages, according to the state news agency Anadolu.


Erdogan publicly endorses Hamas. Earlier this week, he likened Hamas to Turkish independence fighters against Western armies in Anatolia the 1920s, during a parliament address.


At the same address, the Turkish leader attacked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over what he called an ongoing "massacre" in Gaza. Israel firmly rejects Erdogan's statements.


Despite the president's verbal attacks, Turkey has recently stepped up its efforts to play a mediating role in the Gaza war.


Negotiations mediated primarily by the United States, Qatar and Egypt have so far failed.


The war began after more than 1,200 people were killed in the massacre carried out by Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups in Israel on October 7. Numerous people were also taken hostage from Israel to the Gaza Strip. There are still 133 people being held there, only some of whom are probably still alive.


Israel responded with massive airstrikes and a ground offensive in Gaza, with more than 33,000 people killed in the strip.


Given the high number of civilian casualties and the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the strip, Israel is being increasingly criticized internationally - even by close partners.



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