Erdogan claims Israel will come for Turkey if it defeats Hamas

Turkish president says Palestinian terror group is defending Anatolia as well as its 'own land' in the war with Israel

File - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, shake hands during their meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, April 20, 2024. (Turkish Presidency via AP)

ITANBUL, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday claimed that Israel would “set its sights” on Turkey if it succeeded in defeating Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Erdogan, a vocal critic of Israel’s war in the Palestinian territory following Hamas’s attack on October 7, has often expressed support for the Palestinian terrorist organization as defenders of their homeland.

Hamas is classed as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union, among others, but Erdogan has repeatedly rejected this, calling it an organization of freedom fighters.

“Do not think that Israel will stop in Gaza,” Erdogan told his party lawmakers in the parliament in the capital Ankara.

“Unless it’s stopped… this rogue and terrorist state will set its sights on Anatolia sooner or later,” he said, in a bizarre claim referring to the large Turkish peninsula also called Asia Minor that comprises more than half of Turkey’s territory.

“We will continue to stand by Hamas, which fights for the independence of its own land and which defends Anatolia,” added Erdogan.

File: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference in Ankara, on April 24, 2024. (Adem ALTAN / AFP)

The Turkish leader on Monday said more than 1,000 members of Hamas were being treated in Turkish hospitals amid the ongoing war in Gaza.

Erdogan has also met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Istanbul, after which he encouraged Palestinians to unite against Israel.

He has been vocal against Israel since the beginning of the war, comparing Israel to the Nazis and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. On Sunday, Erdogan said that Netanyahu’s “genocidal methods” in Gaza would have made Hitler “jealous.”

Erdogan and Netanyahu have a long history of public attacks on each other, which have ebbed and flowed alongside Israel and Turkey’s on-again, off-again relations. The attacks had halted as Jerusalem and Ankara ties warmed, but the détente has seemingly fallen apart over the Israel-Hamas war.

Earlier this month, Erdogan announced that Turkey would halt all trade between his country and Israel in a highly impactful move against Jerusalem over the war against Hamas.

During the October 7 attack on Israel that sparked the war, terrorists killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians. They also seized 252 hostages, 128 of whom Israel estimates remain in Gaza, including 36 the military says are dead.

A composite photo showing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, May 5, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90); Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a press conference in Istanbul, Turkey, May 3, 2024. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 35,000 people in the Strip have been killed in the fighting so far, a toll that cannot be independently verified. The UN says some 24,000 fatalities have been identified at hospitals at this time. The rest of the total figure is based on murkier Hamas “media reports.” It also includes some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Also, 273 IDF soldiers have been killed during the ground offensive against Hamas and amid operations along the Gaza border.

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