Yesterday, there were massive protests around the world - even in Israel - in support for the people of Gaza. Thousands took to the streets in London. Even in France, where a ban is in place, people felt the urge to voice their anger. In the capitals of the U.S., Sweden, Norway, Germany and Spain, tens of thousands of people protested the Gaza offensive outside Israeli embassies and at squares. Bloodstained shrouds, posters, slogans and anger stood out during the protests. Since the beginning of Israel's large-scale ground offensive, massive protests have been taking place at the Israeli consulate and residence in Istanbul and Ankara.
The Gaza Strip was being bombarded from both air and sea while these lines were written - Gaza City and Rafah were hit by heavy shelling. Israel has called up 65,000 army reservists since the beginning of July and it is reported that the offensive might be expanded.
Speaking on the ground offensive, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said, "We condemn Israel launching a ground offensive now, which comes after the barbarous murders it has committed through air raids. We will start an initiative for an extraordinary meeting of the U.N. Security Council. In Jeddah and New York, we will also call for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the U.N. Human Rights Council to convene an emergency session."
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Israel's ground invasion will have "dreadful consequences" for Israel. There is significant anger from across the world, but there are serious doubts about what these "dreadful consequences" might be. Humanity's conscience is being tested once again over the Palestinian issue because the same scenes are played out every year, only to be set aside and then forgotten after a while.
Reactions against Israel hardly go beyond rhetoric as European leaders and the U.S. still openly support Israel and public opinion seems to have no influence. The positive remarks and words of support for Palestine are just that … words. However, when it comes to Israel, words of support are followed by tangible action. This being the case, the people follow their conscience and take to the streets while their leaders pay lip service to their constituents and continue with their policies in support of Israel.
Mehmet Görmez, the head of Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs, issued a declaration on sectarian divisions and conflicts on Saturday as part of the three-day World Islamic Scholars Initiative for Peace, Moderation and Common Sense Summit. The community of Islam and common ground among Muslims were emphasized in the declaration. A call for joint action regarding Muslims in conflict regions across the world was made. Following the declaration, scholars, representatives and opinion leaders from around the world were asked about their views. The most common response was on Gaza and that there is a need to take concrete steps toward peace. There was palpable anger and a call for action against Israel from the Islamic world. Still, the same lack of principles is dominant in the countries of these scholars. Political leaders from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and other Muslim countries are just as silent as their Western counterparts.
Merkel's Germany or el-Sissi's Egypt may be largely silent on Gaza, but their people are on the streets, which separates the people from their leaders.
About the author
Meryem İlayda Atlas is Editorial Coordinator of Daily Sabah. She is board member of TRT, the national public broadcaster of Turkey. Atlas also serves as a visiting scholar at Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University.