Turkey’s Erdogan calls Netanyahu a ‘butcher,’ threatens to have him tried as ‘war criminal’

President Erdogan previously called Israel a terror state and accused it of committing war crimes in Gaza.

By Troy O. Fritzhand, The Algemeiner

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a “butcher” who would be tried as a “war criminal” over Israel’s ongoing military operations in Gaza, upping his anti-Israel rhetoric as relations between the two countries continued to decline.

“Beyond being a war criminal, Netanyahu, who is the butcher of Gaza right now, will be tried as the butcher of Gaza, just as Milosevic was tried,” Erdogan said in a speech to an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) committee meeting in Istanbul. The Turkish leader was referring to Yugoslav ex-President Slobodan Milosevic, who was tried for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes at a tribunal in The Hague.

Erdogan — who falsely accused Israel of attempting to uproot Palestinians from all of Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem — also lambasted Western countries for supporting Israel.

“Those who try to skip over the deaths of all those innocent people by using the excuse of Hamas have nothing left to say to humanity,” he added, referring to Western powers, which he called “blind and deaf.”

Erdogan has been one of Israel’s harshest critics since Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists murdered over 1,200 people and kidnapped 240 others during their massacre across southern Israel. The Palestinian terror group’s surprise invasion from neighboring Gaza sparked the current conflict, in which Israel has been targeting Hamas with air strikes and ground operations.

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Last month, Erdogan called Israel a terror state and accused it of committing war crimes in Gaza.

“With the savagery of bombing the civilians it forced out of their homes while they are relocating, it is literally employing state terrorism,” Erdogan said of Israel while speaking in Turkey’s parliament. “I am now saying, with my heart at ease, that Israel is a terror state.”

Erdogan called for Israeli leaders to be tried for war crimes at the International Court of Justice in The Hague and echoed his claim that Hamas is not a terrorist organization but a legitimate political party.

Hamas has notoriously used civilians as “human shields” in conflicts with Israel, trying to prevent them from evacuating war zones and placing their weapons and command centers for planning terror attacks in hospitals and other civilian sites.

Turkey hosts senior Hamas officials and, together with Iran and Qatar, has provided a large portion of the Palestinian terror group’s budget.

Several Western and Arab states designate Hamas, an offshoot of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, as a terror group.

However, Erdogan has defended Hamas terrorists as “resistance fighters” against what he described as an Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.

Israel withdrew all its troops and civilian settlers from Gaza in 2005.

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Since Oct. 7, Erdogan has repeatedly lambasted Israel and defended Hamas, threatening the former for “not behaving like a state” and praising the latter as “a liberation organization that is waging a struggle for its land.”

Last month, Erdogan said he was suspending all communication with Netanyahu, citing Israel’s actions in Gaza as the reason. The Turkish president clarified that Turkey was not fully severing diplomatic relations with Israel, an option he dismissed as unwise.

Israel recently announced that it was reevaluating its relationship with Turkey due to Turkey’s increasingly hostile rhetoric and continued support for Hamas.

Israel and Turkey had restored full diplomatic ties last year, and Erdogan and Netanyahu had met in person for the first time in September, weeks before the Hamas massacre, amid what was then a thawing of bilateral relations after more than a decade of a contentious relationship.