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

Erdogan welcomed academics and scientists facing persecution for their views on Gaza and slammed Western countries as being "complicit" in 'war crimes' in Gaza. His views have dramatically escalated tensions with Israel, with whom his government restored full diplomatic relations this year.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Ankara (Turkey) Published on: December 27, 2023 20:20 IST
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Image Source : REUTERS Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday 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.

After an initially cautious approach to the conflict, Turkey has adopted a sharp tone in criticising Israel's air and ground assault in Gaza, calling it a "terror state" and saying that its leaders must be tried in international courts.

"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.

The situation in Gaza

As Israeli operations expanded across the war-torn Gaza Strip, more than 240 Palestinians have been killed in the territory in the last 24 hours, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. The Israel Defence Force (IDF) said that it struck over 100 sites on Tuesday, amid concerns that it is expanding its ground operations in central Gaza.

At least 20,915 people have been killed - two-thirds of them women and children - in Gaza, according to the health ministry, as the war has continued past 11 weeks since the deadly Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 that killed 1,200 people and 240 people were taken captives.

Meanwhile, Israel's Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said that the war could last for "many months" to ensure that Israel's "achievements are preserved for a long time". "There are no magic solutions, there are no shortcuts in dismantling a terrorist organization, only determined and persistent fighting. We will reach Hamas' leadership too, whether it takes a week or if it takes months," Halevi said. Israel is determined to destroy Hamas despite global calls for a ceasefire in the 11-week-old war.

(with inputs from Reuters)

ALSO READ | Israel-Hamas War: Over 240 people in Gaza killed in last 24 hours as IDF operations expand

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