Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched on Incirlik Air Base to protest Washington’s support for Israel
Police used tear gas and water cannons to break up a pro-Palestinian demonstration at Incirlik Air Base in Türkiye on Sunday. A convoy of protesters arrived at the American base earlier in the day in a show of anger against the US and Israel.
Cars and buses bearing Palestinian and Turkish flags left Istanbul on Friday en route to the base, which sits just outside the city of Adana near the Syrian border. The convoy was organized by the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), a Turkish NGO that called on its supporters to “surround” the base upon arrival.
Security was heightened at the base ahead of the protest, and local police fired tear gas canisters into the crowd before the facility could be surrounded.
Some protesters chanted pro-Hamas slogans, Türkiye’s Daily Ummah news site reported. Tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons were used to drive the crowd away from the American base, according to the outlet.
İncirlik’te toplanana 100 binlerce Müslüman kardeşimize atılan gaz bombaları…
— Muhammed DAL (@Muhammed_dal21) November 5, 2023
— Daily Ummah (@dailyummah) November 5, 2023
Following the crackdown, IHH organizers reportedly called on the crowd to disperse. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Protests erupted across Türkiye following the start of Israel’s air campaign against Hamas last month. While the Israeli government claims that it is targeting the Gaza-based militant group, 67% of those killed in the bombing campaign have been women and children, according to UN figures. Israeli tanks and troops have since moved into the enclave, and more than 9,700 Palestinians have died, according to the latest figures from the Gaza Health Ministry. More than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel in the same period, most of them during Hamas’ October 7 assault on the Jewish state.
The US has backed Israel with arms, ammunition, and funding, as well as by deploying two aircraft carrier groups to the region. Although Türkiye is a NATO ally of the US, Ankara has recalled its ambassador to Israel while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the Israeli military of war crimes and broken contact with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I believe that we should stop Israel — which looks as if it’s completely out of its mind and lost it — as soon as possible,” Erdogan declared on Thursday, adding that Ankara would “ensure that those responsible for war crimes in Gaza will face justice.”
The US has used Incirlik Air base since the mid-1950s. Over the decades, the base has been a staging site for reconnaissance flights over the Soviet Union, combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and air support missions during the US campaign against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in 2015. The US also stores around 50 B61 nuclear bombs at Incirlik.
The base has occasionally been a focal point for anti-US and anti-NATO protests, with thousands of demonstrators surrounding the facility and burning American flags in 2016 during a coup attempt against Erdogan.