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'Erdogan last person to preach morality...': Netanyahu reacts to Turkish President's 'Hitler' remark

Earlier, Erdogan criticised Netanyahu over Israeli attacks in Gaza and said that he was no different from Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler. He likened Israel's operations in Gaza to the treatment of Jewish people by the Nazis in a dramatic escalation of tensions after the Hamas attack on Oct 7.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Jerusalem Published on: December 28, 2023 17:09 IST
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish
Image Source : PTI Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday sharply reacted to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's "Hitler" remark, saying that he is the "last person" to preach morality to the country as he is committing genocide against the Turks. He also called the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) as the "most moral army in the world".

In a statement posted on social media platform X, Netanyahu said, ""Erdogan, who is committing genocide against the Kurds and who holds the world record for imprisoning journalists who oppose his regime, is the last person who can preach morality to us."

"The IDF, which is the most moral army in the world, is fighting to eliminate the most abhorrent and brutal terrorist organization in the world, Hamas-ISIS, which has committed crimes against humanity, and which Erdogan has praised and whose leaders he hosts," he further said.

What did Erdogan say about Netanyahu?

Earlier on that day, Erdogan criticised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the relentless attacks in Gaza and said that he was not different from Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler. Erdogan likened Israel's operations in Gaza to the treatment of Jewish people by the Nazis.

"They used to speak ill of Hitler. What difference do you have from Hitler? They are going to make us miss Hitler. Is what this Netanyahu is doing any less than what Hitler did? It is not," Erdogan said while welcoming academics and scientists facing persecution for their views on Gaza.

He further lashed out at Western countries supporting Israel, saying that they are complicit in "war crimes" being committed in the besieged strip. "He is richer than Hitler, he gets the support from the West. All sorts of support comes from the United States. And what did they do with all this support? They killed more than 20,000 Gazans," Erdogan further said on Netanyahu.

Relations between Turkey and Israel

Erdogan had been cautious in commenting on the situation since the Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel. His latest views have dramatically escalated tensions with Israel, with whom his government had restored full diplomatic relations earlier this year.

Despite Turkey's scathing criticism of Israel, it maintains commercial ties with the Jewish country, drawing backlash from opposition parties and Iran. However, unlike its Western allies and some Arab nations, Turkey does not view Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

Things escalated in late October when Erdogan labelled Israel as a 'war criminal' for its attacks in Gaza and called Hamas 'patriotic', leading the latter to recall its diplomats to reassess relations with Ankara. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said, “A snake will remain a snake" referring to Erdogan. “[Erdogan] tried to improve his image, but remains an antisemite".

Israel was a long-time regional ally of Turkey before Erdogan came to power, but ties imploded after a 2010 Israeli commando raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship, part of a blockade-busting flotilla, that left dead 10 Turkish activists. Although relations between the two countries improved, both countries withdrew their ambassadors in 2018 amid violence in Gaza and the Trump administration’s relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem.

Erdogan's action against Kurdish militants

Turkey struck over 70 sites allegedly linked to Kurdish groups in Syria and northern Iraq during airstrikes launched this week in retaliation for the deaths of 12 Turkish soldiers in Iraq, the defence minister said on Wednesday. At least 59 Kurdish militants were killed in the strikes and land operations.

Last week, militants affiliated with the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, attempted to infiltrate a Turkish base in northern Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, Turkish officials said. Six Turkish soldiers were killed in the ensuing firefight. On Saturday, six more soldiers died in clashes with the Kurdish militants.

The PKK, which maintains bases in northern Iraq, has led a decades-long insurgency in Turkey and is considered a terror organization by Turkiye's Western allies, including the US. Tens of thousands of people have died since the start of the conflict in 1984.

However, Turkey and the US, Israel's closest ally, disagree on the status of the Syrian Kurdish groups, which have been allied with Washington in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria.

(with AP inputs)

ALSO READ | No difference between Netanyahu and Hitler: Turkish President Erdogan as Israel wreaks havoc in Gaza

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