Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a “terrorist.” He also went on to sharply condemn and criticize the Israeli army. This has resulted in a war of words between Netanyahu and Erdogan.
A fresh bout of violence has broken out in the Gaza strip and 16 have died as a result and hundreds have been injured.
Israel is the world's only Jewish state. The Jews staked claim for a land of their own due to religious reasons. They trace their origins to Abraham, who they consider as their patriarch. In the immediate aftermath of the creation of Israel, a war between Arab nations and Israel took place. The Arabs were initially on the offensive but their military resources dried up when the UN declared an arms embargo on the region.
Major wars such as the War of Attrition, Yom Kippur War and the Gaza War have been fought over the years. Nearly every effort by the international community to establish peace in the region has failed.
Over the years, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey have all recognized the state of Israel since its creation. However, many Gulf nations like the Saudi Arabia and Bahrain do not have official diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. In fact, Turkey was the first Muslim majority country to recognize the State of Israel.
The Gaza Strip, which is home to nearly 1.5 million Palestinians, is a narrow strip of land between Israel and Egypt. It is a self-governing Palestinian territory and is under Israeli occupation. In 1948, the strip came under Egypt’s control after the Arab-Israeli war. It was occupied by Israel in 1967 when the country engaged in military conflict once again with Arab nations.
The majority of residents in the Gaza Strip are refugees, the region is often marred by violence. For over a decade, Israel has blocked the entry and exit from Gaza. This existed even before 2007 but measures for the blockade were increased. This has resulted in a shortage of goods entering the region for the residents. The economy has been significantly hit as Israel has allowed only basic humanitarian needs to enter the area.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the current President of Turkey. Having held this position since 2014, he was previously the Prime Minister of the country from 2003 to 2014. Prior to that, he was the Mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998.
Violence once again erupted in Gaza in March 2018. Israeli soldiers opened fire on violent protestors in the region. This resulted in the deaths of sixteen Palestinians.
The development elicited an angry response from Turkish President Erdogan. He went as far as calling Israeli Prime Minister a “terrorist.” “I strongly condemn the Israeli government over its inhumane attack,” Erdogan said of Friday’s incidents along the Gaza border. “Have you heard any noteworthy objections to the massacre by Israel that happened yesterday in Gaza from those who criticize the Afrin operation? This is the biggest proof of insincerity of those who fixate on us but say nothing about Israel using heavy weapons to attack people who are protesting on their own lands.”
This has resulted in a war of words between Netanyahu and Erdogan. “The most moral army in the world,” Netanyahu tweeted about the IDF, “will not be lectured to by someone who for years has indiscriminately bombed civilian populations. Apparently, this is the way they mark April Fools’ Day in Ankara.”
Erdogan also stated, “Hey Netanyahu! You are occupier. And it is as an occupier that you are on those lands. At the same time, you are a terrorist.” He added, “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.”
Our assessment is that Turkish President Erdogan has taken an aggressive approach with countries like Israel and the US in the recent years. His sharp words towards the Israeli Prime Minister signals a deterioration in ties between Turkey and Israel.
Overall, it is important for the UN to work towards a “Two State solution” in line with principles that are mutually agreed between the Israelis and the Palestinians, which include rejecting violence and terrorism and recognizing Israel’s right to exist in peace.
Read more: Netanyahu’s legacy