Turkey's Erdogan Condemns Israel's 'Excessive Use of Force' Against Muslim Worshippers

The Turkish president called on the international community to intervene in the Temple Mount crisis

Palestinian worshippers run as Israeli forces fire tear gas during clashes outside Jerusalem's Old City in front of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, July 21, 2017.
AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Israel on Saturday over the Temple Mount crisis and what he described as excessive use of force against Muslim worshippers.

"Closing Temple Mount for days and imposing restrictions on Muslims is unacceptable," Erdogan said. "I call on the international community to intervene."

Israeli police installed metal detectors outside the Temple Mount in the wake of a shooting attack there a week ago, and barred Muslim men under the age of 50 from Jerusalem's Old City on Friday. Following noon prayers, clashes broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters in East Jerusalem and across the West Bank. Three Palestinians were killed. Later in the evening, a Palestinian broke into a home in the Israeli settlement of Halamish and stabbed a father and two of his children to death and seriously injured his wife. The assailant had said he was "going to die for Al-Aqsa" in a Facebook post

President Reuven Rivlin and Erdogan discussed the Temple Mount crisis in a phone call on Thursday. 

The Israeli President's Residence said that the call took place at Erdogan's request. A senior Israeli official said that the Foreign Ministry opposed to the call taking place, and even passed on a negative assessment of it earlier in the day.

The President's Residence said that during their conversation, Rivlin clarified to his Turkish counterpart that "the terror attack that occurred last Friday at the Temple Mount, a sacred site for all of us, is an unacceptable crossing of a red line that jeopardizes our ability to live together."

Two police officers were killed and another was wounded when three Israeli Arab assailants carried out a shooting attack at the site in Jerusalem's Old City last Friday.

Rivlin reminded Erdogan Israel was quick to condemn attacks that took place in Turkey, and therefore was expecting to hear a similar condemnation from Ankara. "Terror is terror wherever it happens, in Jerusalem, Istanbul or Paris," Rivlin told Erdogan.

The president stressed that Israel is maintaining and will continue to maintain the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem, his residence said. He also said that the steps taken at the Temple Mount were meant to ensure that such attacks won't change it, and that Israel's foremost responsibility is to protect the lives of citizens at the site.

In Thursday's call, Erdogan expressed sorrow about the loss of life in the Temple Mount attack, and asked of Rivlin that Israel remove the metal detectors placed at the site. Rivlin answered that the metal detectors were meant to maintain security at the site following the attack.