Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is reverting back to his hardline stance on Israel and the Palestinian question, on Wednesday in a blistering speech blasting the Jewish state’s “inhumane” war.
The most surprising moment came when he said bluntly that “Hamas is not a terror organization” but is a “liberation group” rightfully fighting to protect Palestinian lands. This is raising eyebrows, and alarm no doubt, among Turkey’s Western allies. After all, this is the head of state for NATO’s second biggest army.
“Hamas is not a terrorist organization, it is a liberation group, ‘mujahideen’ waging a battle to protect its lands and people,” he told ruling AK Party lawmakers, using an Arabic word often used to signify ‘Islamic warriors’.
Contrary to most other NATO countries as well as the European Union, Turkey has never designated Hamas as a terrorist organization.
He additionally accused Israel of “taking advantage” of Turkey’s good will, while Israeli forces ramp up airstrikes against civilians in Gaza, and announced the cancelation of a planned trip to Tel Aviv:
Erdogan said Israel had taken advantage of Turkey’s good intentions and that he wouldn’t go to Israel as previously planned due to Israel’s “inhumane” war against Hamas militants in Gaza, according to state-run news agency Anadolu.
…He said countries outside the region were “adding fuel to fire” in the name of supporting Israel.
Erdogan further called what’s happening an “intentional massacre” as the death toll in Gaza soars past 6,000 – with many of the victims being women and children.
“The perpetrators of the massacre and the destruction taking place in Gaza are those providing unlimited support for Israel,” Erdogan said. “Israel’s attacks on Gaza, for both itself and those supporting them, amount to murder and mental illness.”
Clearly, there want be any normalization effort with Israel, after years of already deteriorated relations. “I shook the hand of this man named Netanyahu one time in my life,” Erdogan said. The two had engaged in a rare handshake on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York last month.
BREAKING — Erdogan says Hamas isn’t a terror group but patriotic organisation that defends its territories and people.
• “They are the warriors (mujahids)” he says. “We aren’t indebted to Israel. But the West is.”
• “I won’t visit Israel”
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) October 25, 2023
“If he (Netanyahu) had continued with good intentions, our relations might have been different, but now unfortunately, that will not happen either because they took advantage of our good intentions,” he added.
Israel’s foreign ministry was quick to denounce Erdogan words hours after he issued them on Wednesday. Denial of Hamas terrorism is the focus of the Israeli condemnation.
“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 reference to the Oct.7 Hamas rampage across southern Israel.