Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan slammed Israel over its implementation of extra security measures in Jerusalem. He called on the Jewish state on Sunday to observe "basic human rights values" following the clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian rioters over Israel's decision to place metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount complex.
The Turkish president didn't stop there. "I condemn Israel's insistence on disregarding all warnings to maintain its position," he said. "It is unacceptable that Israel shut down Haram al-Sharif three days and imposed new restrictions, including metal detectors, on Muslims' entry to the area," he charged.
Erdogan notedly referred to the Temple Mount as 'Haram al-Sharif,' the name Muslims call the Temple Mount by.
"Metal detectors and other restrictions must be lifted immediately and the current status quo must be restored," he pressed on.
Erdogan spoke at a press conference held at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport where he was embarking on his trip to Saudi Arabia, Quait and Qatar in order to attempt to help solve the Gulf countries' rift with Doha
Israeli security forces should refrain from using violence and act according to international law and humane values, he stressed while talking to the press there.
The Turkish president also expressed his wish for the world to take the Palestinian side in this current issue of contention between the two parties.
"I call on the international community to take action in order to ensure that all restrictions on the freedom of worship at Haram al-Sharif be removed immediately," he continued, implying that the placing of the metal detectors was infringing on worshipers' basic democratic rights.
Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also spoke out, calling on Israeli authorities to renege on their "unacceptable behavior including hurting the Al-Aksa mosque." Taking to Twitter, he emphasized that "terror has no religion, language or nationality, and it hurts all of humanity." The Turkish premier also said that Ankara "rejects Israel's excuses [about] closing the Al-Aksa mosque to Muslims."
Yıldırım called on the Israeli government to "take into account that sensitivity of the Islamic world to this issue, and go back on the mistake it made in the fastest manner possible."
At the same time, he made sure to condemn attacks on synagogues in his country, and said that Muslims have been living alongside Jews in Turkey for hundreds of years. "Jews make up an important factor in Turkey's culture richness," he said and called on demonstrators to be "more moderate and not to attack places of prayers." Erdogan had already spoken to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin
, asking him to act for the removal of the metal detectors, but since their conversation last week the clashes have intensified. On Friday night, a 19-year-old Palestinian terrorist entered the home of an Israeli family in the West Bank community of Neveah Tzuf (Halamish) and stabbed to death three of the family members: 70-year-old Yosef Salomon and his two children, 46-year-old Chaya and 36-year-old Elad, who was a father of five.
Earlier in the day, three Palestinian demonstrators found their deaths in the mass protests which saw security forces and rioters face off for hours.
Israel had decided to introduce the new security measures after two Israeli policemen were killed by three Muslim terrorists ten days ago. The assailants fled into the Muslim structures within the complex, and after police conducted a thorough search of the area multiple weapons surfaced, indicating that other potential perpetrators had been stashing them in preparation to carry out further attacks.
While the metal detectors remain in place, top Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have said in the past couple of days that the country was considering alternative security options in the wake of the unabating tensions surrounding the issue. Yasser Okbi contributed to this report.