Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan declared on Wednesday that Israel was a “terror state” that committed war crimes and violated international law in Gaza, ratcheting up his condemnation of Israeli officials and their Western supporters.
Erdogan, speaking two days before a scheduled visit to Germany to meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz, claimed Israel’s military assault against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas comprised “the most treacherous attacks in human history” with “unlimited” Western assistance.
He urged for Israeli officials to stand trial for war crimes at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and he reiterated his – and Turkey’s – opinion that Hamas is not a terrorist organization, but rather a political party that has won elections in the past.
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.