Erdogan Accuses Israel of 'Genocide' Over Self-Defense Operation
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday accused Israel of attempting a "systematic genocide" of Palestinian Arabs in Gaza, in his strongest attack yet on the Jewish state over self-defense campaign Operation Protective Edge.
"We are witnessing this systematic genocide every Ramadan. The Western world remains silent; so does the Islamic world," Erdogan told a meeting of Islamic scholars in Istanbul to mark the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
"Because those who lost their lives are Palestinian, you can't hear their voices," he added.
Erdogan also accused Israel of "lies" because "not enough" Israeli Jews have died in the conflict.
"They say (Hamas) is firing rockets. But is there anybody who died?" he asked. "The number of Palestinians that you (Israel) killed is now 100. Their (Israel's) life is based on lies."
"You will first stop this oppression. If not, it is not possible to realize normalization between Turkey and Israel," Erdogan said, on a separate occasion.
Erdogan himself has also had a long public record of anti-Semitic statements, including several recently despite efforts to normalize relations.
Several months ago, Erdogan kicked and beat a protestor who approached the premier over the May 2014 Soma mine disaster.
"Why are you running away from me - Israeli sperm!" he shrieked, slapping the protester, in video footage uploaded to Sozcu TV. The word "sperm" is seen as a particularly offensive insult in Turkish. The footage later shows security forces beating the man.
In 1998, prior to his stint as PM, Erdogan - then mayor of Istanbul - infamously declared that "the Jews have begun to crush the Muslims in Palestine, in the name of Zionism. Today, the image of the Jews is no different than that of the Nazis."
More recently, Erdogan accused Israel of being behind the ouster of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi.