Turkey condemns Israeli ground incursion

Ankara slams Israel for opening a ground war in Gaza despite worldwide calls for an immediate end to the military operation in the strip.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry expressed its concerns about the Israeli ground incursion into the Gaza Strip and urged Tel Aviv to cease fire.

"We condemn and find it unacceptable that Israel has begun a ground operation (in Gaza) in spite of the warnings and reactions from the international community," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

Ankara, which had earlier condemned Israeli air strikes on Gaza, added that "it is obvious that escalating the tension will not benefit anyone."

The ministry also urged the United Nations to take necessary actions to bring the situation under control.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council, in its third meeting since the conflict erupted, failed to pass a resolution that would have required Israel to end its lethal offensive, which has claimed the lives of hundreds of Palestinians.

So far Israeli forces have killed 488 Gazans, wounding 2,790 others -- a large number of whom are civilians.

Despite worldwide condemnation of the Israeli attacks and calls for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, Israeli military convoys supported by attack helicopters crossed the borders into Gaza after nightfall on Saturday, opening a ground war in the territory after Israeli aircraft pounded the impoverished strip for over a week.

While Israel launched the operation on December 27, under the pretext of stopping rocket attacks on its communities, it later asserted that the military invasion aims to topple the democratically-elected Hamas government, which took over the costal sliver in mid-June 2007.

Hamas, on the other hand, says that its attacks are carried out in retaliation for the Israeli pressure and blocked imposed on the strip -- home to 1.5 million Palestinians.

As Israeli troops entered Gaza, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Israeli and United Nations missions in Istanbul and Ankara late Saturday, protesting against the Israel's ground offensive.


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