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Turkey proposes international army for Palestinian civilians

An Israeli strike on Palestinian settlements (Photo: IANS)

Turkey has suggested the formation of an "international protection mechanism", to help Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday that the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries should pool in military and financial support to create a military force.

The 57-member OIC had called the first major international meeting to discuss the Israel-Palestine conflict this Sunday. The Muslim world is incensed as the conflict goes on between the Israeli defence forces and Hamas–the Islamic resistance movement in West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Hamas militia launch rocket attacks on Jerusalem and other cities (Photo: IANS)

Cavusoglu said: "These efforts should also include physical protection through forming an international protection force with military and financial contributions of willing countries." He blamed Israel for the escalating tensions in East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza. He said attempts to normalise relations with Israel have only emboldened the country.

Cavusoglu said: "The ummah (Muslim community) expects our leadership and courage, and Turkey is ready to take whatever action is necessary."

Besides urging the Muslim countries to stand up for the Palestinians, the minister also called out to the international community to protect the civilian population in the current conflict. He blamed the US for not allowing the UN Security Council to implement a more concrete initiative to reduce tensions in the region.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians began about a month back after right wing Jews wanted to evict a few dozen Palestinians from an east Jerusalem neighbourhood. As tension grew, Hamas launched rocket attacks on Jerusalem and other Israeli cities, killing a few people. Israel retaliated by launching airstrikes on Hamas targets in Gaza, killing many civilians. The violence has only flared since then. 

The continuing conflict has catalysed the Muslim world into action. The foreign ministers of various Muslim countries have been burning the phonelines to frame a unified response to tensions in the region even as they pack their bags to fly to New York to attend an emergency UN session on the conflict.