Türkiye’s leader, attacking Israel, defends Hamas | 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 stances 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.

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