WASHINGTON (CBS DC/AP) — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ridiculed Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza, accusing the Israeli government of “barbarism that surpasses Hitler.”
Speaking at a political re-election rally in the Turkish city of Ordu, Turkey’s prime minister said that Israel has “surpassed what Hitler did to them” and declared the country a “terrorist state.”
“[Israelis] have no conscience, no honor, no pride. Those who condemn Hitler day and night have surpassed Hitler in barbarism,” said Erdoğan. He accused Israel of rejecting ceasefires that Hamas has proposed and “spitting death, spitting blood.”
Erdogan reiterated his opposition to Israel’s operations in the Gaza Strip and said that the Israel Defense Forces have had a “disproportionate” effect and will end any positive relations between Israel and Turkey. Despite the climbing death toll of Palestinians – with nearly 800 killed during the most recent Israeli offensive in Gaza – Erdogan said that the Turkish people should not take out their frustrations on Turkey’s own Jewish community.
“I don’t approve of any [bad] attitude towards our Jewish citizens in Turkey, despite all this,” Erdogan told supporters. “Why? They are citizens of this country.”
Recent rallies in Turkey have shown a growing opposition to Israel, with the country’s government reducing its staff in Turkey due to safety concerns and reports that the Israeli flag was torn down and replaced with a Palestinian one, The Independent reports.
Erdogan also told Turkish supporters that Turkey’s involvement with Qatar – despite Israel’s accusations that Qatar supports terrorism – will continue as a show of support for those “persecuted” by Israel.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met twice Friday in Cairo with U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri to try to nail down a deal to bring a week-long pause in the fighting and begin as soon as this weekend.
It’s part of a plan to phase in a lasting cease-fire between Israel and the Hamas militant group in the three-week war.
Two diplomats close to the negotiations said a deal had not yet been reached but spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be named.
Kerry, Ban and Shukri were expected to brief the media later Friday.
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