In ever-escalating remarks, Turkey’s Prime Minister on Saturday blamed Israel for the failure of the 72-hour truce with Hamas on Friday, saying the Jewish state would “drown in blood.”
“Israel did not obey the truce declared yesterday, their lust for blood will not end,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at an election campaign rally in Turkey’s Balıkesir province, according to Hurriyet Daily News. “But they will drown in the blood they lust for,” he said.
Erdogan derided Israel for “crying over a captured soldier.”
“You are talking about it, but who will pay the price for 1,500 martyrs?” he said, referring to the reported number of Gazan killed in the 26 days of fighting. Israel says hundreds of those killed were militants and gunmen.
“The international community should stop Israel’s desire for genocide,” he added.
Israel says Hamas was to blame for the collapse of the truce after it attacked IDF troops in Gaza, killing two soldiers in a suicide bombing attack and allegedly kidnapping a third, 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin, 90 minutes after the truce began at 8 a.m. Friday. Hamas has blamed Israel in turn, saying the attack occurred before 8 a.m. and denying abducting the soldier.
By and large, the Israeli position appears to have been accepted in the international community, with the US calling the Hamas attack “an outrageous violation of the ceasefire” and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon saying he condemned the abduction “in the strongest terms.”
While he has repeatedly attacked Israel throughout the duration of Operation Protective Edge, Erdogan has also paradoxically sought to position Turkey as a central mediator in the conflict, along with Qatar. Israel has repeatedly rejected the two nations as mediators, seeing Egypt and the US as the only credible parties.
On Thursday Erdogan said the “genocide” Israel was carrying out against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip was reminiscent of the Holocaust. At an election rally in the southeastern city of Van, the Turkish premier said “The children of Gaza could not celebrate Eid and were killed in a cowardly fashion by the Israeli state in schools, homes, mosques and anywhere they took shelter.”
Two weeks earlier Erdogan accused Israel of “barbarism that surpasses Hitler” during a campaign stop.
Turkey’s election will be held August 10, with some Israeli commentators viewing his increasingly fierce statements as demagoguery intended to help him gain votes.
Hundreds of people have staged protests in recent days outside the Israeli diplomatic mission in Ankara and Istanbul. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has issued a travel warning to Israeli citizens against nonessential travel to Turkey. “Given the public atmosphere in Turkey in light of Operation Protective Edge, we are honing our recommendation to avoid visits to the state that aren’t essential,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Yifa Yaakov and AP contributed to this report.