Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, referring to him as heavily involved in the Gaza situation, and accused him of contributing to the global rise of anti-Semitism. Erdogan has consistently condemned Israel for the significant human and infrastructure toll resulting from its response to the cross-border attack by Hamas on October 7. He characterizes Israel as a “terrorist state” and describes Hamas as a “liberation group.”
Erdogan intensified his criticism during a speech to members of his Islamic-rooted ruling party in parliament.
“Netanyahu has etched his name in history as the figure behind the Gaza tragedy,” Erdogan asserted in remarks broadcast nationwide.
“By endorsing anti-Semitism through the actions in Gaza, Netanyahu is putting the security of Jews worldwide at risk through the atrocities he has committed.”
Erdogan’s strong language has raised concerns about the stability of the recently mended relations between Turkey and Israel.
Ambassadors were only reinstated last year, marking the end of a decade-long rupture in diplomatic ties between the two nations.
They had also been exploring the development of closer trade relations and collaborating on new energy projects with the aim of fostering longer-term trust.
The Gaza conflict led to Israel recalling all diplomatic staff from Turkey and other regional countries as a precautionary security measure. In protest of Israel’s approach, Turkey withdrew its envoy from Tel Aviv.
Mediators were actively working on Wednesday to extend the Israel-Hamas truce. The truce, in effect since last week, facilitated the release of 60 Israeli hostages and 180 Palestinian prisoners.
Erdogan expressed concern that Netanyahu’s government was complicating the truce extension by persisting in discussions about eradicating Hamas. Erdogan stated that statements from the Netanyahu administration were diminishing hopes for the humanitarian pause to evolve into a lasting ceasefire.
The truce agreement has temporarily halted the fighting that began when Hamas militants crossed the border into Israel, resulting in the deaths of 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and the kidnapping of about 240 individuals.
Israel’s subsequent air and ground campaign in Gaza has resulted in significant casualties, with Hamas officials reporting nearly 15,000 people killed, the majority of whom are civilians. Additionally, large parts of the northern territory have been reduced to rubble.