Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Monday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would eventually be tried as a war criminal over Israel’s ongoing offensive in the Gaza Strip while slamming Western countries supporting Israel, Reuters reported.
Turkey, which supports a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict, has sharply criticized Israel over its campaign in Gaza, launched in response to militant group Hamas’ rampage on Oct. 7. More than 15,500 people have been killed in the Israeli air and ground attacks, according to Gaza’s health ministry.
In a speech to an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) committee meeting in İstanbul, Erdoğan said the Western nations supporting Israel were giving it “unconditional support to kill babies” and were complicit in its crimes.
“Beyond being a war criminal, Netanyahu, who is the butcher of Gaza right now, will be tried as the butcher of Gaza, just as Milosevic was tried,” Erdoğan said, in reference to Yugoslav ex-President Slobodan Milosevic, who was tried for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes at a tribunal in The Hague.
“Those who try to skip over the deaths of all those innocent people by using the excuse of Hamas have nothing left to say to humanity,” he added, referring to Western powers, which he said were “blind and deaf.”
Unlike most of its Western allies and some Gulf states, NATO member Turkey does not view Hamas as a terrorist group and hosts some of its members.
Erdoğan, whose ruling party has Islamist roots, said a so-called contact group of Muslim countries, which was formed by the OIC and Arab League last month to hold talks on Gaza with Western countries and others, would continue discussions until the fighting in Gaza stopped, but added more must be done.
“We must absolutely evaluate the United Nations Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court [ICC] within this framework,” he said, adding that Israel’s nuclear arsenal must not be forgotten.
Erdoğan, who has long called for the United Nations Security Council to be reformed to be more inclusive, also said the UN had failed the test in Gaza and called for an urgent reform, repeating that the Security Council’s five permanent members – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France – did not represent the world.
“The sincere efforts of Secretary General [Antonio] Guterres were sabotaged by the Security Council members,” he said. “None of us have to accept this system,” he added.
“It is not possible for such a structure to bring peace or hope to humanity.”