Turkish President Recap Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of being “a terrorist state” and of aiming to wipe out the total population of Gaza.
During a parliamentary address, Turkish President Recap Tayyip Erdogan blasted Israel on Wednesday for being “a terrorist state” and for implementing a strategy to wipe out the population of Gaza. In his speech, he vowed to bring Israel’s political and military leaders to trial in international courts, reports The Times of Israel.
Asserting that Israel “receives the full backing of the US and the West” to “commit war crimes,” Erdogan told the Turkish parliament that “the Israeli government has been continuously committing war crimes for the last 40 days; they are bombing hospitals, streets and mosques, and are aiming for all these places intentionally, implementing a strategy of total destruction of a city and its people.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit back at Erdogan hours later. “He calls Israel a terror state, but in his actions, he supports the terror state of Hamas,” said Netanyahu, in comments released by his office. “He himself shelled Turkish villages within the borders of Turkey — we will not accept his preaching.”
Although Israel’s diplomatic ties with Turkey have only been restored recently, they have significantly deteriorated since the October 7 attack on Israel by the Hamas terrorist organisation. Both countries recalled their ambassador and diplomatic staff.
“I would like to speak very bluntly. Israel is a terrorist state,” Erdogan said. “They consider Hamas to be a terrorist organisation, but Hamas is a political party that won the collective vote in Palestine, and after they won the election, you have seized and usurped their rights. Israel and the US have seized those rights.”
Hamas won the last Palestinian elections in 2006 by a narrow margin. It didn’t win a majority and formed a unity government with Fatah for several months before ousting Fatah entities in the Gaza Strip and taking over the territory.
Erdogan went on to invoke the death toll in Gaza – a number which is reported by the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, which claims over 11,000 people have been killed in the war. However, it cannot be independently verified and is thought to include terror operatives, as well as civilians killed by hundreds of misfired Palestinian rockets.
“Israel is carrying out the most heinous attack against women and children in all of history,“ Erdogan said, accusing Israel of intentionally leaving babies to die without food or fuel.
Following Erdogan’s fiery anti-Israel speech, Israeli Opposition Leader MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) declared on platform X that Israel “won’t take lessons in morality from President Erdogan, a man with an appalling human rights record.” “Israel is defending itself against brutal terrorists from Hamas-ISIS, some of whom have been allowed to operate under Erdogan’s roof,” he added.
Turkey often hosts top Hamas officials in its territory, and Erdogan has repeatedly met with the terror group’s leaders. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has split his time between Qatar and Turkey after moving away from the Gaza Strip several years ago and has been in close contact with Turkey since October 7. Hamas has been allowed to flourish inside Turkey for over a decade and has run operations from an office in Istanbul, although Turkey insisted it only hosted the group’s political wing.
Under Erdogan’s leadership, Turkey has been diplomatically and militarily involved in the Syrian civil war since its earliest days. In 2019, Amnesty International found Turkey to have displayed “a shameful disregard for civilian life, carrying out serious violations and war crimes, including summary killings and unlawful attacks that have killed and injured civilians.”
Photo credit: Adem Altan/AFP