Turkey expels Israeli consul in spat over Gaza violence

Queen Elizabeth and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Queen Elizabeth and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Turkey and Israel expelled each other's senior diplomats in a dispute over the killing by Israeli forces of 60 Palestinians a day earlier during protests on the Gaza border.

Turkey has withdrawn its ambassador in Tel Aviv for consultations and told Israel s ambassador to Ankara to leave, also for an unspecified period of time.

Thousands of Palestinians had gathered on Gaza Strip's eastern border to take part in protests marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel - the Nakba ("Catastrophe") - and protest the relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country hosts a number of Hamas leaders living in exile, denied on Tuesday that Hamas is a terrorist organization, calling the terror group a "resistance movement". The government declared three days of mourning. Before Naeh boarded the plane as Istanbul's Ataturk Airport, the ambassador was subjected to what Israel's Foreign Ministry described as a "harsh" security check.

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"The Russian side underlined the importance of refraining from violence and the need to establish an effective negotiating process in order to find mutually acceptable solutions based on relevant United Nations (UN) decisions", it said.

"Want a lesson in humanity?"

Yair Netanyahu's post came as the relations between the two countries have hit rock bottom after Israeli soldiers killed 62 Palestinian protesters Monday on the border with Gaza, on the day the US opened its embassy in Jerusalem, in a move rejected by the global community. Erdogan, who is campaigning for presidential and parliamentary elections next month, said a rally will be held on Friday to protest the killings.

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