ANKARA — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan increased his criticism of Israel, calling it a “terrorist state” and claiming it is intent on destroying Gaza along with all of its residents.
In a fiery speech to members of his party, Erdogan also says his country will take steps to ensure that Israel’s political and military leaders are brought to trial in international courts, The Times of Israel reported.
“Israel is implementing a strategy of total destruction of a city and its people,” Erdogan says.
“I say openly that Israel is a terrorist state.”
The Turkish leader also describes Hamas terrorists as “resistance fighters” trying to protect their lands and people.
Erdogan made the comments days before he is set to depart on an official visit to Berlin.
On Tuesday, German Chancellor said Erdogan’s accusations of fascism against Israel were “absurd”.
Erdogan has been an increasingly vocal critic of Israel’s war against Hamas, which was launched after the terror group carried out a murderous rampage across southern Israel on October 7, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians.
Israel was a long-time regional ally of Turkey before Erdogan came to power, but ties imploded after a 2010 Israeli commando raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship, part of a blockade-busting flotilla, that left dead 10 Turkish activists who attacked IDF soldiers aboard the ship.
Netanyahu and Erdogan repeatedly aimed brickbats at each other in the ensuing years, including mutual charges of genocide. In July 2014, Erdogan accused the Jewish state of “keeping Hitler’s spirit alive” during a war with Gaza.
Ties later saw a moderate improvement, but both countries withdrew their ambassadors in 2018 amid violence in Gaza and the Trump administration’s relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem.
Facing hardening diplomatic isolation and economic woes, Erdogan began to publicly display an openness toward rapprochement in December 2020.
In August of last year, Israel and Turkey announced a full renewal of diplomatic ties. Earlier this month, Ankara said it was recalling its ambassador to Israel for consultations due to Israel’s refusal to agree to a ceasefire in Gaza. — (IANS)