Speaking at a Wednesday election campaign rally, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has delivered yet another blow to the Israeli prime minister, referring to Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing corruption allegations at home, as “the thief who heads Israel”.
The Turkish president then branded Netanyahu a “tyrant who slaughters 7-year-old Palestinian kids”.
Erdogan's tough statement did not go unnoticed: the Israeli Prime Minister reacted later in the day, accusing the Turkish president of committing genocide against Kurds.
"Erdogan, the dictator who sends tens of thousands of political opponents to prison, commits genocide against the Kurds, and occupies Northern Cyprus, preaches to me, to Israel, and to the Israel Defense Forces, about democracy and the ethics of war. A joke," the Israeli prime minister tweeted.
The Israeli prime minister added that it is best that the Turkish president "does not get involved with Jerusalem."
Netanyahu and the Turkish leader have been repeatedly exchanging jibes and insults over the recent years. Netanyahu often criticizes Turkish policies toward Kurds, including the 2018 Ankara-led Operation Olive Branch in majority-Kurdish Afrin district in northern Syria.
Erdogan’s explosive remarks followed a tweet by his spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, who roasted the Israeli prime minister over comments on the status of Arabs in Israel.
Netanyahu says that Israel is “a nation state not of all its citizens but only of the Jewish people”.— Ibrahim Kalin (@ikalin1) 12 марта 2019 г.
I strongly condemn this blatant racism and discrimination.
1.6 million Arabs/Muslims live in Israel.
Will the Western governments react or keep silent under pressure again?
The two heads of state have on a multitude occasions verbally clashed, with Erdogan accusing Israel of “thuggery, violence and state terror” amid deadly clashes in the Gaza Strip at the height of the Palestinians’ Great March of Return.
The Turkish president also drew parallels between Israel’s actions and the Nazi persecution of Jews, dismissing Netanyahu as the “PM of an apartheid state”, who has “the blood of Palestinians on his hands”.
“The Israeli administration’s view to identify those ancient lands as belonging to Jews alone is no different from Hitler’s obsession with the Aryan race. The Hitler spirit, which dragged the world into a major disaster, has risen again among some Israeli officials”, Erdogan said in July 2018, referring to new legislation defining Israel as a Jewish state.
The Israeli prime minister struck back, repeatedly saying that “a man who sends thousands of Turkish soldiers to hold the occupation of northern Cyprus and invades Syria will not preach to us”.
“The fact that the great ‘democrat’ Erdogan is attacking the nation-state law is the greatest compliment for this law. Turkey, under Erdogan’s rule, is becoming a dark dictatorship”, Netanyahu said, responding to accusations.
Relations between Israel and Turkey were exacerbated by the beginning of the Palestinians’ Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip last March, which turned violent and resulted in deadly clashes.
The violence reached its climax on the day of the official opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem – six months after US President Donald Trump announced the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Since then, the ongoing clashes have taken the lives of an estimated 200 people. The Israeli authorities have been blaming the violence on Hamas, with the military responding to rocket and arson balloon launches from the strip with air raids and attacks on the Palestinian group’s targets.