Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on November 15 slammed Israel as “a terror state” and called for its leaders to be tried for war crimes at the international court of justice in The Hague.
Erdogan’s latest unconstrained condemnation of Israel’s killing of thousands of civilians in its Gaza Strip war with Hamas came after his AKP ruling party said they had filed a case with the court, the ICC, accusing Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu of committing genocide against the Palestinians.
The Turkish leader, who has said Netanyahu can no longer be regarded by Ankara as an “interlocutor”, addressed Turkey’s parliament, saying: “With the savagery of bombing the civilians it [Israel] forced out of their homes while they are relocating, it is literally employing state terrorism, I am now saying, with my heart at ease, that Israel is a terror state.”
Attorney to the AKP, Metin Kulunk, posted on social media platform X: "Today... we have filed a lawsuit with the International Criminal Court in The Hague against the Hitler of the 21st century of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who must stand trial for the genocide he committed in the Gaza Strip and all crimes against humanity."
Erdogan’s latest comments on Israel’s actions in Gaza provoked an incendiary response from Israel, where the opposition leader, Yair Lapid, said: “We won’t take lessons in morality from President Erdogan, a man with an appalling human rights record. Israel is defending itself against brutal terrorists from Hamas-Isis, some of whom have been allowed to operate under Erdogan’s roof.”
As previously reported by bne IntelliNews, Erdogan might, in fact, be on shaky ground in accusing others of war crimes. Kurds in Syria have accused Erdogan of committing the very war crimes he accuses Israel of in parts of Syria. October drone strikes by the Turkish Armed Forces on Kurdish-held areas of northeast Syria damaged critical infrastructure, denying water and electricity to millions of people, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released at the end of October.
A panel of European legal experts known as the Turkey Tribunal compiled a dossier of witness testimonies with details of claimed torture, state sponsored kidnapping and wrongful imprisonment of around 200,000 people by the Erdogan state apparatus.
“Turkish officials have committed crimes against humanity against hundreds of thousands of opponents of the Erdogan regime,” the panel’s submission to the ICC was cited as saying. “These crimes amount to a ‘widespread and systematic attack against a civilian population’, meeting the threshold for the ICC to launch proceedings against high ranking officials of the Erdogan regime.”
Erdogan critics also note that, while he has been one of the most outspoken world leaders in chastising Israel over its bombardment and besieging of Gaza, his government has not responded to a request from Iran to halt oil flows to the Israelis. Azerbaijani crude exports that reach Israel on tankers that depart from Turkey’s Mediterranean coast have not been stopped.
Despite the claims of hypocrisy Erdogan leaves himself open to in denouncing Israel, the strongman continues to hit out at the Israelis, and the West’s failure to bring a halt to the suffering of the Palestinians, with full force.
Erdogan, who is due in Germany at the end of this week to meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, said in further comments that Israel's military campaign against Palestinian militant group Hamas included "the most treacherous attacks in human history" with "unlimited" support from the West.
He also reiterated his view that it is entirely wrong to describe Hamas as “terrorist”.
"We will never shy away from voicing the truth that Hamas members protecting their lands, honour, and lives in the face of occupation policies are resistance fighters, just because some people are uncomfortable with it," Erdogan said.
Turkey is known for hosting top Hamas officials. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen issued a stinging rebuke in response to Erdogan’s latest criticism of Israel’s war in Gaza, saying on X: “Those who host arch-terrorists and encourage terrorist organizations should not preach morality to the State of Israel.”