World Bulletin / News Desk
Israel should stop its intensified bombardment of the Gaza Strip and never contemplate a possible ground offensive, Turkey's President Abdullah Gul said Friday.
Gul's remarks came amid escalating violence in Gaza following the start of an Israeli military operation, dubbed "Operation Protective Edge," with the stated aim of ending rocket fire from Gaza earlier this week.
"There is a need for a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement and efforts should be intensified to restart peace talks in a manner that the Palestinians would be given their essential rights," Gul said in a written statement.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said there would be no normalization of the Turkish-Israeli relations unless Israel stopped its offensive against Palestinians.
At least 98 Palestinians – mostly civilians – have been killed and hundreds injured in the offensive against the Gaza Strip that began late Monday night, according to reports by the Palestinian Health Ministry.
Regarding the spiraling violence across the Middle East, Gul said: "I invite all parties to end conflicts and to act with responsibility. I invite all of them to urgently activate diplomacy and dialogue channels, with all their sincerity. Otherwise, no winner will appear out of all this process."
He also urged for the immediate release of the Turkish consulate staff who have been held captive in Iraq since militants abducted them in early June.
Turkey's southeastern neighbor Iraq has seen a marked escalation in tension as a coalition of armed opposition groups have taken control of large swathes of Iraq's predominantly Sunni provinces.
Armed insurgents linked with ISIL, or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, abducted 49 people from the Turkish consulate in the flashpoint city of Mosul on June 11, one day after seizing 31 Turkish lorry drivers.
The militants released the drivers after 23 days of captivity in Mosul, but the consulate staff members remain captive.Last Mod: 11 Temmuz 2014, 14:32