How Turkey Reacted to Hamas Attacks

October 9, 2023
by Haşim Tekineş, published on 9 October 2023
How Turkey Reacted to Hamas Attacks

Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7 has mostly received a welcoming reaction in Turkey. While President Erdogan has called on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides to exercise restraint, other Turkish political leaders have mostly supported the Palestinians. They deliberately avoided criticizing Hamas militants for violence against Israeli civilians. More sympathy for Israel can be observed among Turkish social media users, possibly due to graphic images on the internet or anti-AKP sentiments.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the main opposition party (CHP), has declared his full support for the Palestinian cause. “Before the eyes of the U.S. administration, the cruelty of the Israeli administration in the Middle East is a crime against humanity. I condemn the massacre in Gaza and condemn the U.S. and Israeli administrations. We stand with the oppressed Palestinian people,” said Kilicdaroglu. The party’s spokesperson condemned the massacre in Gaza. Ozgur Ozel, one of the contenders for the CHP leadership, condemned Israel’s retaliations on Gaza. In a later post, Ozel noted that his support for Palestinian independence does not mean approval of Hamas terror.

A screenshot of a social media postDescription automatically generated

The Turkish left has given a more mixed reaction. The Turkish Communist Party and Left Party have given unequivocal support to the Palestinian cause, citing historical Israeli oppression. Both parties acknowledged that the Palestinian acts were legitimate resistance in their statements. The Green Left Party, on the other hand, condemned the violence against Israeli civilians while supporting the Palestinian people’s struggle for freedom. Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, human rights defender and Green Left Party MP shared the images of Israeli civilians who were killed while waiting at a bus station and wrote that civilian deaths are unacceptable. “I have always criticized the Israeli oppression, but what Hamas has done is murder. Human rights perspective cannot be partisan, but it only looks through the prism of rights,” Gergerlioglu noted.

A person lying on the ground next to a white vanDescription automatically generated

Meral Aksener, the leader of the nationalist Good Party (IYI Party), depicted Hamas’s violence as a terrorist act. Aksener said that such acts have nothing good except increasing the suffering of Palestinian people. 

The Islamists in Turkey have mostly sided with Hamas without exception. Ahmet Davutoglu, the leader of Future Party, shared a post supporting the Hamas attack. ”I support the justified resistance of our Palestinian brothers and sisters who have been left lonely by the Muslim World and international community against the constant violation of the sanctity and Islamic identity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the ongoing attacks and the establishment of new settlements in the Israeli-occupied lands,” he said. Fatih Erbakan, the leader of Milli Gorus's offshoot New Welfare Party party, said Israel only understands force, not words. Likewise, Hudapar, a political party of violent Turkish Hizbullah, announced its support for the Hamas attacks. Both the New Welfare Party and Hudapar support the People's Alliance led by Erdogan's AKP. Only, Ali Babacan, former Economy Minister and leader of the Deva Party, described Hamas as an actor who brings the Palestinians’ rightly cause into disrepute.

A screenshot of a social media postDescription automatically generated

While the Turkish political leaders have mostly avoided condemning the violence against civilians, the social media users are more sympathetic towards Israel. Karabekir Akkoyunlu argued that Israeli support for Azerbaijan against Armenia and the rising tide of anti-Arab Turkish nationalism are the main drivers of this sympathy. In addition to these, as argued by Huseyin Konus, Chairman of InstituDE, anti-AKP sentiments also lead people to take a stance against Hamas.

A screenshot of a social media postDescription automatically generated

President Erdogan’s first reaction to the Hamas attack was calling the sides to calm down – a reaction which is quite diplomatic and even pro-Israeli by Erdogan’s standards. Turkey officially does not recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization. The organization even has an office in Turkey. Its leader, Ismail Haniyeh, is among Erdogan’s frequent visitors. In this respect, his balanced stance means that Ankara does not want to risk the normalization with Israel for a temporary crisis. Nonetheless, Erdogan rarely skips any opportunity to criticize Israel as a ‘terror state’ or occupier. Because of AKP’s ideological leanings or Erdogan’s opportunism, the Turkish government will probably have difficulty maintaining its balanced approach in such a crisis for a long time. So indeed, at the beginning of Arab Spring, the 2011 Libya crisis, the Syria crisis, and the 2017 Qatar crisis, Turkey took a more diplomatic stance, but as the events unfolded and new perceived opportunities arose, it made radical maneuvers. Thus, depending on the course of events in the region, a more Hamas-oriented policy might still be on the table.

You may also like

Fransa'da Sol ve Merkez İttifakı Aşırı Sağı Durdurdu

July 8, 2024
by Ali Dinçer and Haşim Tekineş, published on 8 July 2024
Yeni yayınımızda eski diplomat ve Dış Politika Uzmanı Ali Dinçer ve instituDE Dış Politika Analisti Haşim Tekineş #Fransa Parlamento seçimlerinin ikinci tur sonuçlarını değerlendirdiler.

BOP: Nedir Bu Büyük Orta Doğu Projesi

June 26, 2024
by Haşim Tekineş, published on 26 June 2024
instituDE Dış Politika Analisti Haşim Tekineş Büyük Orta Doğu Projesi'nin ne olup ne olmadığını ele aldı.

Hakan Fidan'dan Çin'in Uygur Politikasına Destek

June 18, 2024
by Haşim Tekineş, published on 17 June 2024
#DışGündem'de instituDE Dış Politika Analisti Haşim Tekineş, #HakanFidan'ın 3-5 Haziran tarihlerinde #Çin ve #Uygur bölgesine yaptığı ziyareti çeşitli boyutlarıyle ele aldı.