ISTANBUL, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday denounced as “excessive” the use of force by Israeli security forces in deadly clashes over the Temple Mount.
“I condemn Israel’s insistence on its position despite all warnings… and the excessive use of force by Israeli forces against our brothers gathered for Friday prayers,” he said in a statement.
Erdogan said that he was speaking in his capacity as the current chairman of the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) whose chairmanship Turkey currently holds.
Clashes in Jerusalem between security forces and violent protesters a day earlier left three Palestinians dead. Later Friday three Israelis were stabbed to death in the West Bank by a 19-year-old Palestinian terrorist who said he was acting over anger over the Temple Mount.
Tensions have risen to boiling point over new metal detectors installed by Israel as security measures around the Temple Mount compound following the killing of two Israeli police officers by Israeli Arabs who came out of the compound armed with guns and opened fire.
Turkey and Israeli had last year ended a rift triggered by the IDF’s boarding in 2010 of a Gaza-bound ship that left 10 Turkish activists dead.
But Erdogan, who regards himself a champion of the Palestinian cause, is still often critical of Israeli policy and his comments were among his toughest on Israel since the reconciliation deal.
Erdogan on Thursday had urged his Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin to swiftly remove metal detectors to end the tensions.
Rivlin for his part urged Erdogan to condemn the killing of the officers.
Erdogan reaffirmed in the statement that the restrictions were “unacceptable” and should be removed “immediately.”
“I urge the international community to immediately take action to remove practices that restrict freedom of worship at Haram al-Sharif,” he said, refereeing to the Temple Mount compound.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this article.