Erdogan tells pro-Palestinian rally: Israel is occupier | 29 Oct 2023 | President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed hundreds of thousands of supporters at one of the largest pro-Palestinian rallies since the Israel-Hamas war began, courting his Islamist political base a day ahead of the centenary of Turkey’s secular republic. "Israel has been openly committing war crimes for 22 days, but the Western leaders cannot even call on Israel for a ceasefire, let alone react to it," Erdogan told the crowd in Istanbul on Saturday (28 October), who waved Palestinian flags. "We will tell the whole world that Israel is a war criminal. We are making preparations for this. We will declare Israel a war criminal," he said. In an hour-long speech, Erdogan also repeated his assertion that Hamas was not a terrorist organisation, describing Israel as an occupier. Turkey has condemned Israeli civilian deaths caused by Hamas's 7 October rampage through southern Israel, which killed 1,400, but Erdogan this week called the militant group Palestinian "freedom fighters."