ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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Israel sends condolences to Turkey over wedding bombing

Joining international condemnation of suspected IS attack that killed 51, Jerusalem calls for concerted effort against terror

Women cry during a funeral  for a victim of last night's attack on a wedding party that left 50 dead in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian border, on August 21, 2016. (AFP Photo/Ilyas Akengin)
Women cry during a funeral for a victim of last night's attack on a wedding party that left 50 dead in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian border, on August 21, 2016. (AFP Photo/Ilyas Akengin)

Israel on Sunday night sent condolences to Turkey over the deadly wedding bombing that killed 51 people late Saturday, calling for an international effort to fight terror.

“Israel expresses its condolences to the families of the victims in the city Gazintiep and Turkey, and sends its best wishes to the injured,” a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.

“To defeat terrorism the international community must join forces and fight it with strength and determination,” the short statement continued.

The statement came hours after others, including the US, Germany and the Palestinian Authority, released similar condemnations against the attack, which Turkish officials say was carried out by a teen at the behest of the Islamic State.

The bombing at a wedding in the southern city occurred just hours after Turkey’s parliament ratified a reconciliation deal reached with the Jewish state last month, ending a six-year rift and paving the way for the restoration of full diplomatic ties.

Ambulances arrive at the site of an explosion on August 20, 2016 in Gaziantep following a late night militant attack on a wedding party in southeastern Turkey. (AFP/ AHMED DEEB)
Ambulances arrive at the site of an explosion on August 20, 2016 in Gaziantep following a late night militant attack on a wedding party in southeastern Turkey. (AFP/ AHMED DEEB)

Israel on Saturday night praised the Turkish move, with the Prime Minister’s Office issuing an official statement expressing hopes for the swift implementation of the agreement and normalization of relations between the two countries.

Saturday’s explosion was the latest attack to rock the key NATO member in a horrific year that has seen strikes blamed on Kurdish and Islamist militants as well as a bloody July 15 botched coup.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the blast on the Islamic State group, and said a suicide bomber as young as 12 carried out the attack near the Syria border.

The president said the Islamic State group was the “likely perpetrator” of the bomb attack, the deadliest in 2016, that targeted a celebration attended by many Kurds.

US ambassador to Turkey John Bass condemned the “barbaric attack on innocent civilians,” adding that Washington would “continue to work closely together to defeat the common threat of terrorism.”

A coffin is carried during the funeral procession of one of the victims from last night's attack on a wedding party that left 50 dead in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian border on August 21, 2016. (AFP/ILYAS AKENGIN)
A coffin is carried during the funeral procession of one of the victims from last night’s attack on a wedding party that left 50 dead in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian border on August 21, 2016. (AFP/ILYAS AKENGIN)

The pope called on faithful to pray for the victims while Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the “cowardly and underhanded” attack “in the strongest terms”.

The remains of a suicide vest were found at the scene, the chief prosecutor’s office said Sunday according to broadcaster CNN-Turk.

Gulser Ates, one of scores wounded in the attack, told Hurriyet the attack took place as the party was breaking up in the mainly Kurdish neighborhood.

“We were sitting on chairs, having a chat with one of our neighbors.

“During the explosion, the neighbor died on top of me. I remember being underneath. If my neighbor hadn’t fallen on top of me, I would have died,” she said.

“The bride and groom’s happiest day was poisoned.”

The bride and groom — Besna and Nurettin Akdogan — were rushed to a hospital, but were not seriously wounded.

According to the state-run Anadolu news agency, the bride was released from hospital, saying as she left: “They turned our wedding into a bloodbath.”

She later returned to hospital after repeatedly fainting, Anadolu reported.

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