Pro-Palestinian Attackers Storm US Base

Hundreds of pro-Hamas protesters on Sunday attempted to storm the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey that houses US troops just hours before Secretary of State Antony Blinkin was scheduled to arrive in Ankara, Reuters reported.

Turkish police used water cannons and tear gas to repel the crowds who were chanting slogans and waving Palestinian and Turkish flags. The protesters knocked over barricades and fought with police wearing riot gear.

As police fired smoke bombs into the crowds, some protesters began hurling rocks, plastic chairs, and other objects at the officers as fights broke out between security forces and protesters.

Since Israel declared war on Hamas, protests have erupted throughout Turkey while the Turkish government has stepped up its criticism of Israel while hosting officials from Hamas.

Last week, the Islamist Turkish aid agency IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation organized a convoy to take demonstrators to the Incirlik air base to protest US support for Israel.

The airbase, which has been used by an international coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria, houses US troops. The protestors have called for the base to be closed.

Bulent Yildirim, the president of IHH, addressed the protesters, urging them not to attack the police. He claimed that the Turkish police would go to Gaza and fight Israel “when the time comes.” Yildirim pleaded with the crowd not to direct their rage at Turkey which is “doing what it can.”

However, the staged rally was cut short due to the attacks against police.

While in Ankara, Secretary Blinken met with Turkey’s foreign minister, Hakan Fidan where the two discussed efforts to increase humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza and ways to prevent the conflict from spreading to other parts of the region, Reuters reported.

The Secretary of State did not meet with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.