Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Israel is a “terrorist state” that is committing war crimes and violating international law in Gaza, sharpening his repeated criticism of Israeli leaders and their supporters in the West.
Speaking two days before a planned visit to Germany to meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Erdogan said Israel’s military campaign against the Palestinian group Hamas included “the most treacherous 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 view – and Turkey’s position – that Hamas is not a terrorist organization but a political party that won the previous election.
Britain, the United States, the European Union and some Arab states consider Hamas a terrorist group, unlike Turkey. Ankara hosts some members of Hamas and supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“With the ferocity of its shelling of civilians that have forced them to flee their homes while they are moving, it is literally using state terrorism,” Erdogan said of Israel in parliament. “Now I say, with my heart at ease, that Israel is a terrorist state.”
Also read: Turkey’s Erdogan says Hamas is not a terrorist organization
“We will never shy away from expressing the truth that Hamas members who protect their lands, honor and lives in the face of occupation policies are resistance fighters, just because some people feel uncomfortable with it,” he said.
Erdogan’s trip to Germany would be his first to a Western nation since Israel began bombing Gaza on October 7 in response to Hamas attacks. Germany expressed strong solidarity with Israel, while urging emphasis on limiting the impact of military operations on the civilian population of Gaza.
“The West, that is, the United States, is unfortunately still looking at this issue backwards,” Erdogan said.
He called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to announce whether or not Israel has nuclear weapons and added that Netanyahu would soon leave his post.
He likened the conflict between Israel, a Jewish state, and the Palestinians to a war between the Christian and Muslim worlds, saying the fighting was a “cross and crescent thing”.
Ankara will take steps to ensure that Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories are recognized as “terrorists,” he added.
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