Erdogan charged that Israel attacked Gaza’s civilian population on purpose.

In a broadcast speech on Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Israel and stood up for Hamas, potentially inflaming relations between his administration and other NATO members, including the US.

Addressing members of his Justice and Development Party in parliament, Mr. Erdogan charged Israel with murdering a great number of women, children, and senior citizens in Gaza as a result of intentional attacks on civilian targets.

The purpose in this instance is not self-defense but rather the barbarism of executing a premeditated act of crime against humanity, he claimed.

Erdogan also took issue with Western nations’ staunch backing of Israel and its designation of Hamas, the armed Palestinian party in charge of Gaza, as a terrorist outfit.

There is nothing terrorist about the Hamas movement.

It is a mujahideen organization dedicated to freedom, fighting for the defense of their homeland and populace.”

The remarks made by Mr. Erdogan are a sharp contrast to the position of Western nations, who have been strongly in favor of Israel ever since Hamas orchestrated an attack in southern Israel on October 7 that resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 people, the majority of whom were civilians. 220 more people—citizens and military—were taken prisoner and sent back to Gaza.

The United States, the European Union, and other nations regarded Hamas as a terrorist group even prior to that incident.

Yet Mr. Erdogan’s criticism of Israel’s response, which has included calling on over a million Gazans to evacuate to the southern portion of the coastal territory and launching a heavy bombing campaign that has severely damaged residential areas, represents views that have spread throughout parts of Arabia and the Muslim world. Israel’s shelling of Gaza has claimed the lives of almost 6,500 Palestinians, according to the health ministry operated by Hamas in Gaza.

Israel has sworn to destroy Hamas and is amassing soldiers on the Gaza border in preparation for a potential combat assault. Although its military claims to take safety measures to prevent murdering civilians, Hamas has made it more challenging by integrating its soldiers with the populace.

Throughout Mr. Erdogan’s two decades as president of Turkey, ties with Israel have been tumultuous, frequently attributed to Mr. Erdogan’s ire over Israeli treatment of Palestinians.

Nonetheless, Mr. Erdogan has moved in the direction of rapprochement with the state of Israel recently.

The first visit by an Israeli head of state since 2008 took place in Turkey’s capital city of Ankara last year, where Israeli President Isaac Herzog was held. The Israeli defense minister and his Turkish colleague agreed to restore collaboration on a separate visit.

Also, Mr. Erdogan had his first meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month in New York during the UN General Assembly; according to Mr. Netanyahu’s office, the two leaders decided to visit each other’s nations.

Mr. Erdogan said on Wednesday that he had canceled all of his intentions to visit Israel.

Erdogan has continued to have connections to Hamas. Turkey is a popular destination for the group’s members, and several of its leaders were there on October 7 when Hamas attacked Israel.

Notwithstanding the fact that Hamas is committed to destroying Israel, Mr. Erdogan stated on Wednesday that, as a nation, he has no issues with Israel and that, in any circumstances, he opposes the slaughter of people. No matter who the offender is, we have made it quite clear that we would never support any activities that target civilians, particularly Israeli citizens, he added.

Yet he said that Israel was hitting Gaza more ruthlessly in the manner of a state than it was as an “organization,” a term widely used in Turkish to refer to extremist organizations.

The remarks made by Mr. Ergodan were “wholeheartedly repudiated,” the Foreign Ministry of Israel declared on Wednesday. According to ministry spokeswoman Lior Hayat, “Hamas is a terrible terrorist group worse than ISIS that ruthlessly and purposefully kills newborns, children, women, and the elderly, kidnaps civilians, and exploits its own people as human shields.” The “Turkey leader’s” aggressive remarks won’t make the tragedies that the whole world has witnessed disappear.

Erdogan charged that Israel attacked Gaza's civilian population on purpose.
Getty Images via the Turkish Presidency Press Office

Mr. Erdogan’s divergence from the majority of the West’s stance on the Gaza crisis is accompanied by disagreements between Russia and his NATO partners. Erdogan has continued to meet with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, even referring to him as “the Russian president,” despite Turkey’s condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. Additionally, Turkey has refused to comply with Western sanctions meant to destabilize the Russian war machine. “My buddy.”

Erdogan charged that the West was using double standards by failing to denounce Israel’s massacre of civilians in Gaza to the same extent that Russia has done so in Ukraine.

He declared, “Those who set the globe on fire yesterday over the casualties in the conflict in Ukraine are hypocrites for being ignorant of this blatant massacre in Gaza.”

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