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Turkish police arrest dozens in pro-Palestine rally in Istanbul

Holding a huge Palestinian flag, thousands demonstrate to show solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza at the Galata Bridge in Istanbul on January 1, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Turkish police have arrested dozens of protesters demanding the end of trade between Ankara and Tel Aviv as the Israeli regime presses ahead with its months-long genocidal war against Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Video circulating on social media showed Turkish riot police harshly forcing 43 pro-Palestine demonstrators into police vans near a famous shopping district on Istiklal Street in Istanbul on Sunday.

The protesters were infuriated that despite President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's harsh public condemnations of Israel's brutal aggression on Gaza, the Turkish government continues to allow state companies to export food, oil, energy, and steel to the occupied territories.

A video released by Turkish activists following the protests stated, "More than 30 of our friends were tortured and detained by the police. The occupying regime of Israel continues genocide in Palestinian lands."

The activists' video added, "We gathered to march in front of the Istanbul trade directorate to expose this trade. Those who say we cannot interfere with the private sector's trade are lying."

Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya confirmed the arrest of 43 protesters in a statement on his X social media account later in the day.

Business media reports said Turkey exported almost $319 million in goods to Israel in January, with the Turkish Statistical Institute's Foreign Trade Statistics Database stressing that the items included precious metals, chemicals, nuclear reactor parts, gunpowder, explosives, aircraft parts, and weapons and ammunition.

The reports also said Turkey’s level of exports to Israel increased to 395.40 USD Million in February from 318.77 USD Million in January.

In a recent speech at a science awards ceremony in Ankara, Erdogan said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s actions in the war-torn Gaza Strip are “no different” than those of Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler.

The Turkish president likened Israel's deadly onslaught on the besieged Palestinian territory to the treatment of Jewish people by the Nazis during the reign of Hitler.

Israel launched its barbaric onslaught against the Gaza Strip, targeting hospitals, residences, and houses of worship after Palestinian resistance movements launched a surprise attack, dubbed Operation al-Aqsa Storm, against the usurping regime on October 7.

At least 33,173 Palestinians have been killed, most of them women and children. Another 75,815 individuals have sustained injuries as well.

Tel Aviv has also blocked water, food, and electricity to Gaza, plunging the coastal strip into a humanitarian crisis.

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