Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday Israel was a “terror state” committing war crimes and violating international law in Gaza, sharpening his repeated criticism of Israeli leaders and their backers in the West.
Speaking two days before a planned visit to Germany to meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Erdogan said Israel’s military campaign against Palestinian militant 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 repeated his view – and Turkey’s position – that Hamas is not a terrorist organisation but a political party that won past elections.
Britain, the United States, European Union and some Arab states deem 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 savagery of bombing the civilians it forced out of their homes while they are relocating, it is literally employing state terrorism,” Erdogan said of Israel in parliament. “I am now saying, with my heart at ease, that Israel is a terror state”.
“We will never shy away from voicing the truth that Hamas members protecting their lands, honour, and lives in the face of occupation policies are resistance fighters, just because some people are uncomfortable with it,” he said.
Erdogan’s trip to Germany would be his first to a Western nation since Israel began bombarding Gaza on Oct. 7 in response to Hamas’s attacks. Germany has expressed strong solidarity with Israel, while urging a focus on limiting the impact of military operations on Gaza’s civilian population.
“The West, namely the United States, is unfortunately still seeing this issue backwards,” Erdogan said.
He called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to announce whether or not Israel had nuclear weapons, and added that Netanyahu would soon be a “goner” from 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 matter of cross and crescent”.
Ankara would take steps to ensure Israeli settlers in occupied Palestinian territories are recognised as “terrorists”, he added.