Hundreds gather at Yenikapi Square to show solidarity with Palestinians
Women and men of all ages, student groups, and families came together at Istanbul's Yenikapi Square on Sunday to show solidarity with Palestinians following the recent Israeli restrictions on Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
"Jerusalem is our heart," stressed a 32-year-old Turkish woman, who was at the rally with her 3-year-old baby girl carrying a Palestinian flag.
Esra, who did not want to reveal her last name, said she brought her baby to the rally as she believed "the Palestinian issue should be learned from early childhood".
Accusing Muslim countries of not doing enough to support the Palestinian cause, she said the only solution to the issue "is an Islamic unity which will act strongly against oppression".
85-year-old Nurhayat Kurt, who joined the rally in her wheelchair said Israel would have to give up in the end.
Kurt stressed that Al-Aqsa was significant for Islam. "I am here with my children and grandchildren. The more Muslims are united against Israel, the better our voice will be heard," she said.
"Everybody should do what they can for our Palestinian brothers and sisters".
Arab countries fail to support Palestinians
Shiraz Abdul, 57, hailing from the Caribbean, was also among the protesters during Sunday's rally.
Having come to Istanbul as a tourist, he learned about the rally against Israel and decided to join in after he thought attending such events "is important because we need to have peace in the world".
Abdul accused Israel of being a capitalist country, which he said "wants to steal the whole world".
He also criticized the Arab countries for not supporting the Palestinian issue and claimed that they preferred to be rich "by supporting Israel".
All the rich countries try to have good relations with Israel, he claimed, adding "because Israel controls the world's monetary system".
58-year-old Cengiz Unlu agreed with him saying, "The Muslim statesmen are more scared of the Western leaders than they are scared of Allah."
"However," he added, "these gatherings will lead to the revival of Islam."
Pointing to the significance of Jerusalem for all Muslims, and not only Palestinians, he concluded: "Allah is with us; and we will be the winners whenever all Muslims can freely perform the daily prayers in Al-Quds", using the Arabic name for the city of Jerusalem.
Hundreds of people attended The Great Jerusalem Rally organized by a number of Turkish NGOs.
Dozens of representatives from civil society organizations including the Anatolian Youth Foundation (AGD), the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), and Yedi Hilal Foundation, gathered at the square and vowed that they would not leave Al-Aqsa Mosque to Israel.
Protesters at the rally chanted anti-Israel and pro-Palestine slogans, as they carried both Turkish and Palestine flags in support of their fellow Muslims.
Sunday's gathering is the last of a series of demonstrations that have been held across Turkey over the last week following the recent restrictions Israel placed on Palestinians entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Anger spilled across the West Bank since mid-July, when Israel imposed security restrictions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound following the deaths of two Israeli police officers and three Arab Israelis in an attack.
Muslims refused to enter the mosque and prayed on the streets surrounding the mosque compound in protest at the installation of metal detectors.
Israel, after facing international condemnation, removed the detectors on Friday.
Palestinians on Saturday took to the streets and rushed into Al-Aqsa to celebrate the removal of detectors. A number of Muslims from around the world joined celebrations around the mosque and greeted each other.
Jerusalem is sacred to members of all three Abrahamic faiths -- Muslims, Jews and Christians -- and the Al-Aqsa Mosque represents the Islamic world's third holiest site.