Turkey’s President Erdogan Calls Israel a ‘Terror State’ in Latest Attack Amid Gaza War
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Israel was a “terror state” committing war crimes in Gaza, adding to his repeated barbs targeting the Jewish state as it seeks to incapacitate the Hamas terror organization.
“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 while speaking in parliament. “I am now saying, with my heart at ease, that Israel is a terror state.”
Erdogan called for Israeli leaders to be tried for war crimes at the International Court of Justice in The Hague and echoed his claim that Hamas is not a terrorist organization but a legitimate political party.
Turkey hosts senior Hamas officials and, together with Iran and Qatar, has provided a large portion of the Palestinian terror group’s budget.
Hamas terrorists, who control Gaza, launched the current war with Israel on Oct. 7, when they invaded the Jewish state, murdered over 1,200 people, and took over 240 people as hostages.
Several Western and Arab states designate Hamas, an offshoot of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, as a terror group.
However, Erdogan defended Hamas terrorists as “resistance fighters” against what he described as an Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.
“We will never shy away from voicing the truth that Hamas members protecting their lands, honor, and lives in the face of occupation policies are resistance fighters, just because some people are uncomfortable with it,” he said on Wednesday.
Israel withdrew all its troops and civilian settlers from Gaza in 2005.
Erdogan added that Israel’s military campaign against Hamas included “the most treacherous attacks in human history” with “unlimited” support from the West.
“The West, namely the United States, is unfortunately still seeing this issue backwards,” the Turkish leader said.
Erdogan’s comments came two days before a planned visit to Germany to meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who has said Israel has a right to defend itself follow Hamas’ Oct. 7 atrocities and pledged to prosecute supporters of the terror group. The trip to Germany would be Erdogan’s first to a Western country since the Israel-Hamas war began last month.
Since Oct. 7, Erdogan has repeatedly lambasted Israel and defended Hamas, threatening the former for “not behaving like a state” and praising the latter as “a liberation organization that is waging a struggle for its land.”
Earlier this month, Erdogan said he was suspending all communication with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, citing Israel’s actions in Gaza as the reason. The Turkish president clarified that Turkey was not fully severing diplomatic relations with Israel, an option he dismissed as unwise.
On Wednesday, Erdogan said that Netanyahu would soon be a “goner” from his position. He also compared the conflict between Israel, the world’s lone Jewish state, and the Palestinians to a war between the Christian and Muslim worlds, saying the fighting was “a matter of cross and crescent.”
The anti-Israel statements from Turkey have not been welcomed in Jerusalem, where the Israeli Foreign Ministry has condemned Erdogan’s comments.
Israeli Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday pushed back against Erdogan, saying Israel “is the only democratic country in the Middle East. It is also the strongest in the Middle East and has the duty to defend itself. It will use all the tools available to this matter.” The former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff also reiterated that Israel is “doing everything possible to reduce the harm to civilians.”
Israel recently announced that it was reevaluating its relationship with Turkey due to Turkey’s increasingly hostile rhetoric and continued support for Hamas.
Israel and Turkey had restored full diplomatic ties last year, and Erdogan and Netanyahu had met in person for the first time in September, weeks before the Hamas massacre, amid what was then a thawing of bilateral relations after more than a decade of a contentious relationship.