Vahap Munyar – LONDON
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he does not deem Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that has been ruling the Gaza Strip, as a terrorist organization, repeating his comments from a Twitter spat with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Our support to the resistance of the Palestinians upsets them. But in this context I do not deem Hamas a terrorist organization. Hamas is one of the resistance movements working to liberate the occupied territories of the Palestinians,” Erdoğan said during his official visit to London on May 16.
“My reply to Netanyahu’s tweet must have got on their nerves,” he added.
The trading of barbs followed the Israeli military’s killing of at least 60 Palestinians protesting the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on May 14-15.
“Erdogan is among Hamas’s biggest supporters and there is no doubt that he well understands terrorism and slaughter. I suggest that he not preach morality to us,” the official Twitter account of the prime minister of Israel wrote on May 15.
Erdoğan’s Twitter account replied in two posts.
“Netanyahu is the PM of an apartheid state that has occupied a defenseless people’s lands for 60+ yrs in violation of UN resolutions. He has the blood of Palestinians on his hands and can’t cover up crimes by attacking Turkey. Want a lesson in humanity? Read the 10 commandments,” it said.
“Reminder to Netanyahu: Hamas is not a terrorist organization and Palestinians are not terrorists. It is a resistance movement that defends the Palestinian homeland against an occupying power. The world stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine against their oppressors,” it went on.
Turkey aims for ‘common attitude’
“We should not talk so assertively. The important point is to adopt a common attitude against Israel’s unjust and unfair acts,” he said.
“But it is hard to say that the international community, including even the Arab League and the Islamic world, has taken a common attitude at the desired level in this respect. We are one of the few countries raising its voice loudly against these wrongful acts. Statements from Iran and Russia are also important,” Erdoğan added.
The Turkish government declared a three-day national mourning and recalled its ambassadors from Tel Aviv and Washington for consultations, while the Israeli ambassador to Ankara and the Israeli consul general were told to leave the country temporarily.
Erdoğan also initiated phone diplomacy with leaders of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member countries, inviting them to an extraordinary meeting of the organization on May 18.
Over the course of the night of May 14 and 15, the Turkish Red Crescent in Gaza and Jerusalem locally obtained emergency medical equipment worth $100,000 and successfully delivered it to hospitals and the Palestinian Red Crescent.