The Turkish government has ordered Israel’s consul general in Istanbul out of the country, hours after the Israeli ambassador to Turkey was expelled.
Consul general Yosef Levi Sfari was told by Turkish authorities to leave the country Tuesday night, Israel’s Foreign Ministry confirmed Wednesday morning.
According to Turkey’s Anadolu media outlet, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry ordered the Israeli consul general out of the country “for a period of time,” AFP reported.
The expulsion came just hours after Ambassador Eitan Naeh was expelled, as tensions between Israel and Turkey heated up in the wake of the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, and clashes on the border between Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
In response, Israel temporarily expelled the Turkish consul in Jerusalem.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country hosts a number of Hamas leaders living in exile, denied on Tuesday that Hamas is a terrorist organization, calling the terror group a “resistance movement”.
“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.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Erdogan accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of having blood on his hands.
“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,” Erdogan tweeted.
Netanyahu later fired back, saying, “A man who sends thousands of Turkish soldiers to hold the occupation of northern Cyprus and invades Syria will not preach to us when we defend ourselves from an attempted infiltration by Hamas.”
“A man whose hands are stained with the blood of countless Kurdish citizens in Turkey and Syria is the last one who can preach to us about combat ethics,” Netanyahu added.