The Foreign Ministry on Monday issued a biting rejoinder to Turkey’s condemnation of Sunday night’s strikes on Hamas sites in Gaza, warning Turkey to “think twice” before criticizing others.
The bitter exchange cast a shadow over a recently confirmed reconciliation pact between the countries and indicated how far Jerusalem and Ankara must still go before erasing years of soured relations.
On Monday morning, Turkey’s foreign ministry said newly restored ties between Israel and Turkey have not changed Ankara’s position on the Palestinians, and condemned Israeli actions that it said “violate the law and human conscience.”
Israel’s response was a taunting mirror image of Turkey’s critique.
“The normalization of our relations with Turkey does not mean that we will remain silent in the face of its baseless condemnations. Israel will continue to defend its civilians from all rocket fire on our territory, in accordance with international law and our conscience,” the statement read.
“Turkey should think twice before criticizing the military actions of others,” the ministry added.
Turkey’s statement came in response to a series of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip late Sunday, targeting 50 Hamas positions in response to a Palestinian rocket attack that hit the Israeli border town of Sderot.
“The normalization of ties with Israel does not compel us to remain silent on the attacks against the Palestinian people in Gaza,” the Turkish ministry said in a statement, according to the Anatolia news agency.
“We will continue to protect the Palestinians from Israeli actions that violate the law and human conscience,” the statement said.
The foreign ministry’s statement came as Turkish police arrested five people who earlier on Monday tried to break into Israel’s consulate in Istanbul to protest the Israeli bombardment.
The incident came days after Turkey’s parliament approved a reconciliation pact reached with Israel last month, ending a six-year freeze on official ties and paving the way for the mutual re-appointment of ambassadors.
Already tense relations between the former allies imploded in 2010 following an Israeli naval raid on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish aid ship trying to breach Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The raid, in which soldiers were attacked as they boarded, left 10 Turks dead and several IDF soldiers wounded.
Under the terms of the reconciliation agreement, Israel will pay a “lump sum” of $20 million in compensation to the victims within 25 days. Individual Israeli nationals will not be held criminally or financially liable for the incident.
With the agreement, Israel also eased slightly the blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, transferring humanitarian aid from Ankara through Israel’s border crossings with the Strip.
On Saturday, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said he intended to visit Israel in the near future.
Israel’s security cabinet approved the reconciliation agreement in June.
AP contributed to this report.