Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that Israel is a "threat" to the Mideast because it possesses nuclear weapons, AFP reports.
"I right now see Israel as a threat for its region, because it has the atomic bomb," Erdogan said in a foreign policy speech during an official visit to South Africa.
He also accused Israel of committing "state terrorism."
Israel maintains a policy of "nuclear ambiguity" and has never officially admitted to having a nuclear arsenal. Nor, observers note, if Israel does possess nuclear weapons, did it employ them even in the darkest hours of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Turkey downgraded relations with one-time ally Israel amid a fit of pique over conclusions of the UN Palmer Report, which concluded Israel's blockade of Gaza is "legal and appropriate," with Ankara saying Israel's willingness to "express regret" for the deaths of Turkish nationals during the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident was "insufficient."
During the 31 May 2010 incidents Turkish agitators aboard the Mavi Marmara attempted to lynch Israeli naval commandoes who boarded the vessel. When less-than-lethal weapons proved insufficient to stop the threat the commandoes switched to live fire, killing 9.
Last month, Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador and froze military ties and defense trade deals. Ankara has also threatened to send warships to escort any Turkish vessels trying to reach Hamas-ruled Gaza.
"I have asked many Israeli officials, how many Israelis, have been killed by rockets launched from Gaza and Palestine. I could not get an answer," Erdogan told his audience.
"Yet tens of thousands of Palestinians have been killed from bombs that have rained down on them from Israel."
"You sleep at night peacefully and secure," he said. "Yet Palestinians can't find a single trace of peace in Palestine."
Statistics for the number of rockets and mortars fired at Israeli communities in southern Israel – as well as injuries and causalities resulting there from – are released monthly to the public via the Internet by Israel's Foreign Ministry, the Shin Bet, and private advocacy groups.