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Former Israeli PM slams Erdoğan for not recognizing Hamas as a terrorist organization

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Former Israeli prime minister Yair Lapid has criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his recent statements not recognizing Palestinian militant group Hamas as a terrorist organization, saying Erdoğan’s stance is a “disgrace” for Turkey.

His remarks came during an interview with Greek public broadcaster ERT.

Hamas militants staged a surprise attack in Israel on Oct. 7, during which they killed 1,400 people — mostly civilians — and seized more than 220 hostages.

The health ministry in the Gaza Strip has said 9,061 people have been killed during subsequent strikes in the Palestinian territory, including 3,760 children.

In a move that attracted harsh criticism from Israel and some Western capitals, Erdoğan said at a party meeting in parliament on Oct. 25 that Hamas is not a terrorist organization, describing its militants as “liberators” fighting for their land and people.

Erdoğan 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.

Lapid, former premier and current opposition leader, on Friday lashed out against Erdoğan about his support for Hamas in the Middle East conflict.

“We are not going to get lectures and directions about human rights from Erdoğan. The fact that he stood up with Hamas, a terrorist organization that kills innocent people, is a disgrace for Turkey and, of course, caused a crisis between Israel and Turkey that will take a long time to fix,” Lapid said.

Israel’s former prime minister explained that an “Iran-Turkey axis” in close collaboration with “proxies” is trying to destabilize the wider region and “steer the emotions in the Middle East that will cause only pain and destruction.”

Tehran has so far not been directly involved in the conflict, although many analysts express their belief that Iran has provided Hamas with military equipment all these years.

Lior Haiat, spokesperson of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that they reject Erdoğan’s “harsh words.”

“Hamas is a despicable terrorist organization worse than ISIS that brutally and intentionally murders babies, children, women and the elderly, takes civilians hostage and uses its own people as human shields. Even 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 and the unequivocal fact: Hamas = ISIS,” Haiat said.

“Erdoğan supports terror, period. It’s time to rethink our relationship with Turkey, ” Miki Zohar, the Israeli minister of culture and sports, also tweeted.

Turkey froze links with Israel in 2010 after Israeli military forces carried out a raid on a Turkish ship heading to the Gaza Strip with aid supplies and intending to break the Israeli blockade on the enclave, killing 10 civilians.

Erdoğan met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September, marking an improvement in relations that began with a decision last year to reappoint ambassadors.

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