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Thousands rally in Istanbul over Israeli measures at Jerusalem's Aqsa mosque

Israel removed the security measures last week, but feelings remain high in Turkey. [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 July, 2017

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Thousands of people rallied in Istanbul on Saturday to protest measures taken by Israel at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Thousands of people rallied in Istanbul on Saturday to protest measures taken by Israel at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

The rally, entitled "The Big Jerusalem Meeting" was organised by Turkey's Islamist Saadet Party, and drew crowds of more than five thousand people to the southern edge of Istanbul.

Protesters arrived in buses and ferries from across the city and waved Palestinian and Turkish flags as huge posters reading 'The Al-Aqsa mosque is our honour' were displayed in front of a giant stage.

Turkey was angered by security measures installed at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound following a July 14 attack on Israeli policemen, with Israel and Turkey exchanging barbed comments last week.

Israel removed the security measures following mass civil society protests and international diplomatic efforts, but feelings remain high in Turkey, with Erdogan saying last week that removing the metal detectors was "not enough".

'Show of strength'

Under the slogan of 'Israel understands a show of strength', the rally was held at the vast Yenikapi Square by the Sea of Marmara which has been the scene of many of Erdogan's biggest meetings.

"You should know that not only Gaza, but Tel Aviv also has their eyes on this parade ground. Netanyahu does as well, and he is scared", said Saadet Party Chairman Temel Karamollaoglu.

The demonstrators also chanted slogans such as "Istanbul and Jerusalem are arm-in-arm".

"I hope that when they see how many people are here, then Israel will get the message," said protester Sadik Sen.

"We want to show to our Muslim brothers there that we are behind them." 

The Saadet Party comes from the same Islamist-rooted political movement as the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Erdogan but is viewed as more religiously conservative.

No senior government officials attended the rally.

Last year, Turkey and Israel ended a six-year rift triggered by Israel's deadly storming in 2010 of a Gaza-bound ship that killed 10 Turkish civilians.

Erdogan's recent comments on the Aqsa crisis were the toughest since the reconciliation deal was signed.

In the past, the Turkish leader has been vocal about Israeli military offensives in Gaza and Lebanon.

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