Israel-Hamas war news: Israel briefly sends tanks to Gaza Strip | ET REALITY

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Israel and defended Hamas during a televised speech Wednesday, taking positions that are likely to increase tensions between his government and those of other NATO members, including the United States.

Speaking in Parliament to lawmakers from his Justice and Development Party, Erdogan accused Israel of deliberately targeting civilians in Gaza and killing large numbers of children, women and the elderly.

“This image alone is enough to show that the goal here is not self-defense, but savagery to commit a premeditated act of crime against humanity,” he said.

Erdogan also criticized Western countries for their strong support for Israel and for labeling Hamas, the Palestinian armed group that controls Gaza, a terrorist organization.

“Hamas is not a terrorist organization,” he said. “It is a liberation organization, of mujahideen, who fight to protect their land and their citizens.”

Erdogan’s comments stand in stark contrast to the positions of Western countries, which have offered strong support to Israel since Hamas led an attack in southern Israel on October 7 that killed more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians. , and took more than 220 others, both civilians and soldiers, returned to Gaza as captives.

Even before that attack, the United States, the European Union and other countries considered Hamas a terrorist organization.

But Erdogan’s criticism of Israel’s response – which included urging more than a million Gazans to flee to the southern half of the coastal enclave and an intense bombing campaign that has severely damaged civilian neighborhoods – reflected sentiments that have been become common in some parts of the Arab region. and the Muslim world. The Israeli bombardment has killed more than 6,500 people, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas and has been massing its troops on the Gaza border for a possible ground invasion. Its military says it takes precautions to avoid killing civilians, but Hamas makes it more difficult by mixing its forces with the civilian population.

Turkey has had turbulent relations with Israel during Erdogan’s two decades as its dominant politician, often linked to Erdogan’s anger over Israeli treatment of the Palestinians.

But recently, Erdogan took steps to move closer to the Jewish state.

Last year, Turkey hosted Israeli President Isaac Herzog in the capital Ankara, the first such visit by an Israeli head of state since 2008. On a separate visit, the Israeli Defense Minister met with his counterpart Turkish, and officials promised to resume labor relations.

Netanyahu met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey in New York last month, in a photo released by the Turkish president’s office.Credit…Press office of the Turkish presidency, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

And last month, during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Erdogan met for the first time with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel; The two leaders agreed to visit each other’s countries, Netanyahu’s office said.

On Wednesday, Erdogan said all plans to visit Israel had been scrapped.

Mr. Erdogan has also maintained ties with Hamas. Members of the group often spend time in Turkey, and many of its leaders were in Turkey for meetings when the Hamas attack on Israel took place on October 7.

Although Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel, Erdogan said on Wednesday that he had no problem with Israel as a country and condemned the killing of civilians in all cases. “We clearly mention that we never excuse any act against civilians, including Israeli civilians, regardless of the perpetrator,” he said.

But he accused Israel of attacking Gaza with a ferocity less befitting a state than an “organization,” using a Turkish word normally used to describe terrorist groups.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday it “wholeheartedly rejects” Ergodan’s comments. “Hamas is a despicable terrorist organization, worse than ISIS, which brutally and intentionally murders babies, children, women and the elderly, takes civilians hostage and uses its own people as human shields,” said ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat. He added that the Turkish leader’s “inciting words will not change the horrors the entire world has seen.”

Erdogan’s departure from the position of most of the West on the conflict in Gaza comes against a backdrop of differences with his NATO allies over Russia. While Turkey condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year, it has refused to accept Western sanctions aimed at weakening the Russian war machine, and Erdogan has continued to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, even referring to him as ” my friend.”

Erdogan accused the West of applying double standards by not condemning Israel’s killing of civilians in Gaza in the same way as it did Russia’s killing of civilians in Ukraine.

“It is hypocrisy that those who yesterday set the world on fire due to war losses in Ukraine are blind to this explicit massacre in Gaza,” he said.

Nadav Gavrielov contributed reporting from Seoul.

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