Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday criticised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the relentless attacks in Gaza and said that he was not different from Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler. Erdogan likened Israel’s operations in Gaza to the treatment of Jewish people by the Nazis.
After an initially cautious approach to the conflict, Turkey has adopted a sharp tone in criticising Israel’s air and ground assault in Gaza, calling it a “terror state” and saying that its leaders must be tried in international courts.
“They used to speak ill of Hitler. What difference do you have from Hitler? They are going to make us miss Hitler. Is what this Netanyahu is doing any less than what Hitler did? It is not,” Erdogan said while welcoming academics and scientists facing persecution for their views on Gaza.
He further lashed out at Western countries supporting Israel, saying that they are complicit in “war crimes” being committed in the besieged strip. “He is richer than Hitler, he gets the support from the West. All sorts of support comes from the United States. And what did they do with all this support? They killed more than 20,000 Gazans,” Erdogan further said on Netanyahu.
Relations between Turkey and Israel
Erdogan had been cautious in commenting on the situation since the Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel. His latest views have dramatically escalated tensions with Israel, with whom his government had restored full diplomatic relations earlier this year.
Despite Turkey’s scathing criticism of Israel, it maintains commercial ties with the Jewish country, drawing backlash from opposition parties and Iran. However, unlike its Western allies and some Arab nations, Turkey does not view Hamas as a terrorist organisation.
Things escalated in late October when Erdogan labelled Israel as a ‘war criminal’ for its attacks in Gaza and called Hamas ‘patriotic’, leading the latter to recall its diplomats to reassess relations with Ankara. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said, “A snake will remain a snake” referring to Erdogan. “[Erdogan] tried to improve his image, but remains an antisemite”.