ANKARA — Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has committed crimes against humanity comparable to those behind the Paris attacks that left 17 dead.
“Netanyahu has committed crimes against humanity the same like those terrorists who carried out the Paris massacre,” he told reporters in televised comments, pointing to the deadly 2010 Israeli assault on a Turkish vessel trying to break the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip and last year’s Israel-Hamas war. Israeli naval commandos opened fire, killing nine Turkish nationals, when they were attacked with clubs and poles on the deck of the Mavi Marmara in the 2010 incident.
“Just as the massacre in Paris committed by terrorists is a crime against humanity, Netanyahu, as the head of the government that kills children playing on the beach with the bombardment of Gaza, destroys thousands of homes … and that massacred our citizens on an aid ship in international waters, has committed crimes against humanity,” Davutoglu said.
The remarks came as part of the latest round in a series of snipes between Israeli and Turkish officials.
Netanyahu, as well as Davutoglu, joined other world leaders at Sunday’s Paris march in memory of 17 people killed in Islamist terror attacks last week, among them six Jews, four of whom were targeted at a kosher supermarket in the city.
At a news conference in Ankara on Monday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he could “hardly understand how he (Netanyahu) dared to go” to the massive march in the French capital.
The Turkish president urged Netanyahu to “give an account for the children, women you massacred” and accused him of leading “state terrorism” against the Palestinians.
On Wednesday night Netanyahu responded by calling on the international community to reject the comments for being morally unsound.
“I believe his shameful remarks must be repudiated by the international community, because the war against terror will only succeed if it’s guided by moral clarity,” Netanyahu’s office quoted him as telling visiting leaders of the US pro-Israel lobby AIPAC. “I’ve yet to hear any world leader condemn the comments by Erdogan, not one.”
Earlier Wednesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called Erdogan an “anti-Semitic neighborhood bully” and accused Europe of contributing to increasing anti-Semitism on the continent by ignoring Erdogan’s recent anti-Israel statements.
“It’s bad enough that leaders in Europe fail to condemn blatant human rights violations in Turkey itself, he said, “but their ignoring of the hatred and the incitement against Israel that this man cultivates is something that we cannot ignore.”
“If one looks for the reasons for increasing anti-Semitism in Europe — why and how it happens — this is one of the reasons. The silence of the lambs of cultured Europe — the Europe of political correctness — in the face of an anti-Semitic neighborhood bully like Erdogan and his friends brings us back to the situation of the 1930s.”
Davutoglu also spoke out against the publication of a caricature of the Muslim prophet Muhammad by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, saying freedom of the press does not give a licence to insult, and describing the cartoon as a “grave provocation”.
“Freedom of the press does not mean freedom to insult,” Davutoglu told reporters in Ankara a day after leading Turkish daily Cumhuriyet and Internet sites published cartoons featuring the prophet from a special Charlie Hebdo issue, the first after Islamic gunmen killed 12 people at their editorial offices in Paris last week. “We cannot allow insults to the prophet… Printing the cartoon is a grave provocation,” he said.
The three-day trail of slaughter in Paris began last Wednesday when Islamic extremist brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi stormed the Charlie Hebdo offices, killing 10 magazine workers, along with two policemen, in revenge for the magazine having published cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.
Over the next two days Amedy Coulibaly, who affiliated himself with the Islamic State group, shot dead four Jews at a kosher supermarket in Paris last Friday and a policewoman the day before.
All three gunmen were eventually killed by police.
On Wednesday, Charlie Hebdo published its first issue after the attack with another cartoon that drew sharp condemnation from the Islamic world, but quickly sold out by early morning around the capital and elsewhere, with long lines and scuffles at kiosks.
Disappointed buyers were told to come back Thursday when more of the increased print run of 5 million copies would be available.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.