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Anti-Israel protest marks Turkey football clash

Sept. 16, 2011 9:18 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 16, 2011 2:50 P.M.)
ISTANBUL (AFP) -- About 300 anti-Israel protesters gathered Thursday in central Istanbul as Turkish football side Besiktas took on Maccabi Tel Aviv in a Europa League match.

Demonstrators chanted: "Murderer Israel, get out of Turkey" and "Destruction of Israel, freedom for Palestine" while holding aloft Palestinian flags on Taksim square.

"Imperialism will be defeated, the Islamic revolt will win the day," read a banner at the protest attended by many women wearing Muslim veils.

Tight security measures were in place ahead of the match in the Turkish city amid cooling relations with Israel over the killing by Israeli forces of nine Turkish activists on board a ship headed for Gaza on May 31 last year.

Ankara expelled the Israeli ambassador and suspended all bilateral military agreements following the publication of a United Nations report earlier this month which slammed the "excessive" force used in the raid, for which Israel has failed to apologize.

"We'll never forget the Mavi Marmara," one banner read, referring to the Gaza-bound ship.

"We don't want any Zionist murderers in our country, whether they are a diplomat, an artist or a sportsperson," one protester told the crowd.

"We are calling for the breaking of all ties between Turkey and the Zionist state."

Demonstrators marched in front of the Besiktas home stadium watched by anti-riot police.

Inside the stadium there were few signs of protest, apart from a handful of Besiktas supporters chanting: "Immoral Israel".

About a dozen Maccabi supporters watched from a stand under police protection as their team was beaten 5-1.
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