Turkey’s Erdogan labels Israel a ‘terror state’, slams its backers in West

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan attends Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November, 11, 2023. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS/File photo Acquire Licensing Rights

ANKARA, Nov 15 (Reuters) – 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 will 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, adding he would call leaders of the countries who last month abstained from a vote at the United Nations General Assembly on an aid truce in Gaza.

Later on Wednesday, Erdogan spoke to Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni and told her that Ankara expected Rome’s support in achieving a ceasefire in Gaza, the Turkish presidency said. Meloni’s office said she had called for rapid de-escalation in Gaza, adding Turkey had a crucial role in preventing the spread of the conflict.

Erdogan also called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to announce whether or not Israel had nuclear weapons, adding that Netanyahu would soon be a “goner” from his post.

He also likened the conflict between Israel, a Jewish state, and the Palestinians to a war between the Christian and Muslim worlds, saying the crisis was “a matter of cross and crescent”.

Ankara would also take steps to ensure Israeli settlers in occupied Palestinian territories are recognised as “terrorists”, he added.


Turkey has sent 666 tonnes of humanitarian aid, medicine and medical equipment and a medical team to Egypt for Gazans so far. Ankara has said it is working with Egyptian and Israeli authorities as part of a coordination mechanism to bring cancer patients and some wounded civilians to Turkey for treatment.

Speaking at Egypt’s Al-Arish airport after meeting with his Egyptian counterpart and visiting the hospitals housing wounded Gazans, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 26 patients and their 13 companions would be flown to Turkey on Wednesday.

Koca said the 39 people were the first to be brought out to Egypt, and later to another country, since the fighting broke out, adding Ankara wanted to bring as many of the nearly 1,000 cancer patients from Gaza to Turkey as possible.

Footage shared later by Turkish state media showed Koca and officials greeting the patients as they arrived on stretchers at Al-Arish airport before being put on a plane to Turkey.

Reporting by Huseyin Hayatsever and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Additional reporting by Giulia Segreti and Angelo Amante in Rome; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Toby Chopra and Nick Macfie

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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