Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Israel to end its operations in Gaza that he said were “amounting to genocide.”
In a statement posted Friday on X, formerly Twitter, Erdogan said the increasing attacks on Gaza would bring “nothing but more pain, death and tears.”
“It is clear that security cannot be ensured by bombing hospitals, schools, mosques and churches,” Erdogan said. “I reiterate our call on the Israeli government not to expand the scope of its attacks against civilians and to immediately stop its operations that are bordering genocide.”
Israel says it has been hitting terror targets in the Strip as part of its campaign against Hamas since October 7, when some 2,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,400 people and seizing 200-250 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — men, women, children and the elderly.
The Israeli Air Force has been pounding the Strip since then. Hamas-run health authorities said Friday the death toll in the Strip had reached 4,100. It is not clear how many of those killed were civilians and how many were terror group members, and the figures could not be independently verified.
Israel has repeatedly said it does not target hospitals, and produced evidence to refute a Hamas claim that it bombed a Gaza City hospital on Tuesday, showing the blast to have been caused by a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket.
“Our region needs to be saved as soon as possible from this frenzy of insanity, encouraged by Western countries and which Western media organizations are competing to legitimize,” Erdogan said.
“I reiterate our call to the Israeli administration to not expand the scope of its attacks against civilians and to immediately stop its operations that amount to genocide.”
He added: “We believe that our region will achieve permanent stability with the establishment of new mechanisms that will guarantee the safety of Muslims, Jews, Christians and everyone living in these lands.”
Erdogan has often assailed Israel and its policies during times of conflict, and the two nations had been at odds for many years under his leadership.
The past year had seen a warming of ties between Israel and Turkey after years of animosity between the two countries’ leaders. Israel was a long-time regional ally of Turkey before Erdogan came to power, but ties imploded after a 2010 Israeli commando raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship, part of a blockade-busting flotilla, that left dead 10 Turkish activists who attacked IDF soldiers aboard the ship.
Netanyahu and Erdogan repeatedly aimed brickbats at each other in the ensuing years, including mutual charges of genocide. In July 2014, Erdogan accused the Jewish state of “keeping Hitler’s spirit alive” during a war with Gaza.
Ties later saw a moderate improvement, but both countries withdrew their ambassadors in 2018 amid violence in Gaza and the Trump administration’s relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem.
Facing hardening diplomatic isolation and economic woes, Erdogan began to publicly display an openness toward rapprochement in December 2020. In August of last year, Israel and Turkey announced a full renewal of diplomatic ties.
In late September, Erdogan met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York for their first known sit-down and the two enthusiastically discussed avenues of cooperation. President Isaac Herzog was hosted by Erdogan last March in Ankara — the first high-level Israeli visit since 2008 — and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met the Turkish leader in February. Then-prime minister Yair Lapid met with Erdogan in New York during last year’s General Assembly.
With Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza likely to expand, Jerusalem and Ankara’s relations could very likely sour once more.