Turkey’s Erdogan calls Hamas ‘liberators’
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wenesday he was cancelling plans to visit Israel because of its “inhumane” war against Hamas militants in Gaza.
The Turkish leader added that he didi not view Hamas as a terrorist arganisation but as “liberators”, fighting for their land, drawing a swift and angry condemnation from Israel government.
Erdogan has taken a more measured tone in the first day of war, condemning all attacks against civilian and urging Israel to be measured in its response to the deadly October 7 attacks by Hamas.
But he come much more vocal after the deadly strike on Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza last week, leading to large and angry protests accros the Muslim World.
He doubled down on Wenesday, telling ruling party lawmakers in parliament that Turkey “never approved the atrocities being committed by Israel”.
Ankara’s relations with Israel froze over an Israel raid on a Turkish ship carrying aid into Gaza, which killed 10 civilians in 2010.
Erdogan met Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a United Nations Summit in New York last month, marking an improvement in relations that began with a decision last year to reappoint ambassadors.
The Turkish leader did not say when he had intended to visit Israel, where Ankara has been eyeing joining a natural gas pipeline project promoted by the United States.
“Of course, we had good intensions, but (Netanyahu) abused them,” Erdogan Said.
“If he had continued with good intensions, our relations might have been different, but now, unfortunately, this will not happen either”.
“Disgusting and brutal’
The latest and far by the deadliest Gaza war broke out when Hamas staged a surprise raid during which militants killed more 1,400 people, most of them civilians, and took 222 hostages, according to Israel authorities.
The Hamas-run health Ministry in Gaza said 6,546 people have been killed, again mostly civilians, as Israel continues to bombarded the territory in preparation for a possible land assault.
Erdogan is expected to appear at a massive rally in Istanbul on Saturday defending Palestinian rights.
He told his Islamic-rooted party on Wednesday that Turkey had “no problem with the Israel state”, but could not accepti its “disgusting and brutal attacks” on Gaza.
“Hamas is not a terror organisation, but a group of liberators and mujahideen (guerilla fighters) who protect their lands,” Erdogan said, drawing a round of applause from his party faithful.
The Israel foreign ministry fired back, accusing Erdogan of defending “terrorists”.
“The Turkish president’s attempt to defend the terrorist organisation and his inciting words will not change the horrors that the whole world has seen”, it said.
THE RWANDA SUN