Israel on Wednesday slammed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after he described Palestinian militant group and Gaza rulers Hamas as “liberators” fighting for their own land, Agence France-Presse reported.
“The Turkish president’s attempt to defend the terrorist organization and his inciting words will not change the horrors that the whole world has seen,” the Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement more than two weeks after deadly attacks on Israel’s south that spiraled into war.
According to health officials in Gaza, more than 6,500 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign against the besieged enclave after the attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, which left at least 1,400 people dead in Israel.
Erdoğan on Wednesday accused Israel of carrying out one of the “bloodiest and most brutal” attacks in the history of the Palestinians since Oct. 7 and of committing war crimes.
He said Western countries hold meetings where they declare Hamas a terrorist organization, but he accused Israel of acting like a terrorist organization.
“Hamas is not a terrorist organization but it is a group of liberators and mujahedeen [warriors] who are fighting to protect their land and people,” Erdoğan said at a party meeting in parliament.
Erdoğan’s comments about Israel on Wednesday have been the strongest remarks from him so far since Oct. 7.
Although famous for his vitriolic outbursts against Israel in its previous attacks on Palestinians, Erdoğan, a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, has been relatively moderate this time, in the beginning asking both sides to avoid harming civilians.
His discourse has become harsher as the civilian death toll in Gaza has risen, prompting many people across Turkey to take to the streets in protest of Israel.
Many of Turkey’s NATO allies consider Hamas a terrorist group.