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Erdogan accuses Israel of 'genocide' over Gaza deaths

© AFP | Israeli soldiers walk amidst smoke from a fire in a wheat field near the Kibbutz of Nahal Oz, along the border with the Gaza Strip

ANKARA (AFP) - 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday accused Israel of "state terror" and "genocide" after Israeli forces killed at least 55 Palestinians on the Gaza border.

In one of his most vehement broadsides ever against the Jewish state, Erdogan also announced three days of national mourning over the deaths, as well as a giant protest in Istanbul on Friday.

Thousands had earlier marched through central Istanbul to denounce the bloodshed as the US moved its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in defiance of widespread outrage in the Islamic world.

"Israel is wreaking state terror. Israel is a terror state," Erdogan told Turkish students in London in a speech broadcast by state television.

"What Israel has done is a genocide. I condemn this humanitarian drama, the genocide, from whichever side it comes, Israel or America," he added.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag told reporters in Ankara that Turkey was recalling its ambassadors to the United States and Israel "for consultations".

Bozdag also said Turkey was calling an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Friday, but did not give details over its format.

Violent clashes erupted along Gaza's border as the US opened its Israel embassy in Jerusalem in a ceremony attended by a White House delegation and Israeli officials.

Erdogan and other Turkish officials have repeatedly condemned the US decision to move the embassy, warning it risked inflaming tensions.

The Turkish president announced he was calling a "giant meeting" on Friday to protest Israel's actions at the vast Yenikapi area in Istanbul, which has capacity for more than a million people.

Erdogan regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause and last year held a summit of Islamic countries to denounce US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

However Turkey also maintains full trade and diplomatic links with the Jewish state after a 2016 reconciliation deal ended a dispute over the deadly storming of a Turkish ship by Israeli commandos.

Ankara earlier on Monday accused the US of sharing responsibility with Israel over the deaths in Gaza.

"The United States, unfortunately, took its place without complaint alongside the Israeli government in this massacre of civilians and became a party to this crime against humanity," Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said.

© 2018 AFP