Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of being a ‘terrorist state’ Sunday, and called Israeli Premier Binyamin Netanyahu a ‘terrorist’, after IDF forces opened fire on infiltrators during a Hamas-led confrontation on the Israel-Gaza border on Friday.
Despite warnings from Israeli officials that IDF snipers would use deadly force to prevent infiltrations across the Israel-Gaza border on Friday, tens of thousands of Arab protesters marched towards the frontier, the beginning of six weeks of planned protests against President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The protests will culminate in a mass demonstration on May 15th, a day after Israel’s 70th Independence Day and the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
At least 17 protesters who attempted to scale Israel’s security fence or hurled firebombs at soldiers were killed in Friday’s clashes, with hundreds more wounded. Ten of those killed were affiliated with the Hamas terror organization which rules the Gaza Strip.
That evening, the IDF thwarted an attempted shooting attack by a terror cell in northern Gaza.
On Friday, Turkey blasted Israel for its use of what a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman termed “disproportionate force” against the Hamas-led protest
"We strongly condemn Israel's use of disproportionate force against Palestinians during the peaceful protests today in Gaza," the foreign ministry in Ankara said in a statement quoted by AFP.
On Saturday, Turkish President Erdogan slammed Israel for the “inhumane attack”.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu mocked Erdogan in a tweet Sunday, calling Erdogan’s attack an April Fool’s Day joke.
“The most moral army in the world will not be lectured to on morality from someone who for years has been bombing civilians indiscriminately," Netanyahu wrote.
He added, referring to April Fool's Day: "Apparently this is how they mark April 1 in Ankara."
Erdogan blasted Netanyahu following the tweet, calling the Israeli premier an “occupier” and a “terrorist”.
"Hey Netanyahu! You are occupier. And it is as an occupier that are you are on those lands. At the same time, you are a terrorist," Erdogan said in a televised speech in Adana, southern Turkey, AFP reported.
During his speech, Erdogan also dubbed Israel a “terror state”.
"I do not need to tell the world how cruel the Israeli army is. We can see what this terror state is doing by looking at the situation in Gaza and Jerusalem," Turkey’s Daily Sabah reported Erdogan as saying.
"Israel has carried out a massacre in Gaza and Netanyahu is a terrorist," Erdoğan said.
Israel and Turkey signed a comprehensive reconciliation deal in 2016, ending a six-year diplomatic standoff following a violent encounter between Israeli soldiers and Islamist radicals on a ship attempting to break through the security blockade on Gaza.
However, Turkish officials, and particularly President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have continued to verbally attack and criticized Israel even after the agreement was signed.
Last year, Erdogan described Israel as a "terrorist state" that kills children, to which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded, "I am not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villagers in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, who helps Iran go around international sanctions, and who helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people."
In December, Turkey’s foreign ministry condemned what it called Israel's "excessive" and "disproportionate" use of force against Palestinian Arabs who protested the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.