Erdogan: Israel a ‘terrorist state,’ Hamas ‘resistance fighters’

Erdoğan has long been a champion of the Palestinians, and his government harbors members of Hamas. Last year saw the 10th anniversary of the official establishment of Hamas’s offices in Istanbul.

By JNS

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday called Israel a “terrorist state” and described Hamas terrorists as “resistance fighters.”

Erdoğan claimed that Israel was attempting to eradicate all of the Gaza Strip and threatened to take steps to ensure that Jerusalem’s political and military leaders are brought to trial in international courts.

“Israel is implementing a strategy of total destruction of a city and its people,” said Erdoğan, in an apparent reference to Gaza City. “I say openly that Israel is a terrorist state.”

The Turkish president also described Hamas terrorists as “resistance fighters” defending Palestinian lands.

In response, Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid slammed the Turkish leader, saying, “We won’t take lessons in morality from 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,” Lapid said.

Erdoğan spoke ahead of a visit to Berlin later this week. On Tuesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described Erdoğan’s accusations of fascism against Israel as “absurd.”

Earlier this month, Israel accused Erdoğan of supporting Hamas, after Ankara recalled its envoy from the Jewish state amid the ongoing conflict.

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“The Turkish government’s decision to recall its ambassador while the State of Israel is in the midst of a war of self-defense imposed on it by a terrorist organization worse than ISIS is another step by the Turkish president that sides with the Hamas terrorist organization,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat.

“Hamas terrorists brutally massacred more than 1,400 people and kidnapped 240 to Gaza, among them babies, children, women, and the elderly.

“Furthermore, Hamas terrorists use the population of Gaza as human shields and are preventing them from moving to safe areas, while stealing fuel, food and drinking water,” he continued.

“Hamas commits war crimes and crimes against humanity and is the real enemy of the Palestinian people,” added Haiat.

Days earlier, Erdoğan said at a mass rally in Istanbul that “Hamas is not a terrorist organization” but rather “a liberation group fighting to protect its lands.”

He previously argued that Gaza’s terrorist rulers constituted “a group of mujahideen [‘jihadists’] defending their lands and people.”

After a long diplomatic cold spell, ties between Ankara and Jerusalem had been warming.

On Sept. 20, during a meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly annual general debate in New York, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Erdoğan that “our ties are improving,” and the two leaders agreed to continue advancing bilateral relations.

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Netanyahu was expected to visit Turkey before December, becoming the first Israeli premier to do so since 2008. Erdoğan planned to visit the Jewish state in return, his office announced in late September.

However, Erdoğan recently told lawmakers that he had dropped his planned trip to Jerusalem. “We had a project to go to Israel, but it was canceled; we will not go,” he said.

Erdoğan has long been a champion of the Palestinians, and his government harbors members of Hamas. Last year saw the 10th anniversary of the official establishment of Hamas’s offices in Istanbul.