The rally, called by a foundation which counts Bilal Erdogan, the son of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, among its members started after crowds performed morning prayers at Istanbul’s iconic mosques, including Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.
Protesters waving Turkish and Palestinian flags rallied to the Galata Bridge on the Bosphorus chanting: “Murderer Israel, get out of Palestine” and “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest).
Tens of thousands of people joined the rally “Mercy for our martryrs and a curse on Israel”, the official Anadolu news agency reported.
Erdogan, a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, has lashed out repeatedly at Israel for the scale of death and destruction caused by its response to Hamas’ unprecedented October 7 cross-border attack.
He has accused Israel of “state terrorism” and said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “no different” from Adolf Hitler.
The nearly three-month war in Gaza was triggered by Hamas’s bloody October 7 attacks on Israel, which killed around 1,140 people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.
Fighters also took around 250 people hostage that day, most of whom remain in Gaza, according to Israeli officials.
Israel vowed to destroy Hamas in response, launching a punishing offensive in the Gaza Strip that has reduced vast areas to a ruined wasteland and killed at least 21,822 people, mostly women and children, according to the territory’s health ministry.
The Israeli army says 172 of its soldiers have been killed inside Gaza, with the war showing no signs of stopping.
The Turkish army said 12 soldiers were killed in late December in two separate attacks launched by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.
Turkey regularly conducts ground and air operations in northern Iraq against the positions of the PKK, listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.