The Turkish president intensifies criticism of Israel and its allies and calls for Israeli officials to be tried for war crimes.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel a “terrorist state,” intensifying his condemnation of the Israeli attack on the besieged Gaza Strip ahead of a delicate visit to Germany.
Erdogan said Wednesday that Israel’s military campaign against the Palestinian armed group Hamas included “the most treasonous attacks in human history” with “unlimited” support from the West.
He called for Israeli leaders to be tried for war crimes at the International Court of Justice in The Hague and reiterated his opinion – and Turkey’s position – that Hamas is not a “terrorist organization” but a political party that won the last elections. Palestinian legislative elections held. in 2006.
“I say clearly that Israel is a terrorist state,” Erdogan told members of his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in parliament.
“While we curse the Israeli administration, we do not forget those who openly support these massacres and those who go out of their way to legitimize them,” he said, pointing to the United States and other Western allies of Israel.
“We are facing genocide,” Erdogan added.
He asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to announce whether Israel has nuclear weapons, adding that Netanyahu would soon be “lost” from office.
Ankara would take steps to ensure that Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories are recognized as “terrorists”, he said.
Netanyahu, speaking at an event in Israel, said the Turkish leader will not “lect him morally,” saying Erdogan supports “the terrorist state Hamas.”
The Turkish leader had taken a more nuanced line immediately after Hamas launched attacks on southern Israel on October 7. About 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed and about 240 were taken hostage, according to Israeli officials.
But Erdogan’s rhetoric has intensified as the scale of Israel’s military response has grown.
Health officials in Hamas-controlled territory said more than 11,300 people have died in Gaza, including more than 4,000 children.
This month, Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel and broke off official contacts with Netanyahu, suspending recent attempts by the two countries to repair their rocky relations.
Israel has also said it is “reevaluating” relations with Ankara after withdrawing its diplomatic staff from Turkey and other countries in the region as a security measure.
Erdogan made the comments two days before a planned meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who has been forced to defend his decision to host the Turkish leader.
Germany has backed Israel and Scholz said it opposes an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza.
“I don’t think the calls for an immediate ceasefire or a prolonged pause – which would amount to the same thing – are correct,” Scholz said on Sunday.
“That would ultimately mean that Israel leaves Hamas the ability to recover and obtain new missiles,” he added, echoing the US government’s position and calling for “humanitarian pauses” instead.