Netanyahu calls Erdogan 'a butcher' in war of words over Gaza violence
The hostility between Netanyahu and Erdogan culminated on Sunday, when the Turkish president accused the Israeli prime minister of being "a terrorist" in his televised speech. "We don't have the shame of invading on us, Netanyahu. You are an invader and right now are present in those lands as an invader. At the same time, you are a terrorist," Erdogan added, ramping up the anti-Israeli rhetoric.
Netanyahu immediately took off his gloves and responded with an equally fierce riposte. "Erdogan is not used to being talked back to. He should start getting used to it. He who occupies Northern Cyprus and the Kurdish region, and butchers civilians in Afrin, should not lecture us about morality and values," the Israeli PM tweeted.
PM Netanyahu: Erdogan is not used to being talked back to. He should start getting used to it. He who occupies Northern Cyprus and the Kurdish region and butchers civilians in Afrin should not lecture us about morality and values.— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) April 1, 2018
The Afrin region of northern Syria is the location of the Turkish operation against Kurdish militias dubbed 'Olive Branch,' which is into third month already.
The Turkish president and the Israeli PM started trading barbs after Ankara blasted Israel for using deadly force to disperse crowds of protesters on the Gaza border. On Friday, Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, criticized in the strongest terms "Israel's attack on defenseless Palestinian civilians who attended the peaceful demonstrations in Gaza." Also on Friday, Turkey's Foreign Ministry slammed the IDF's actions, saying it was deeply worried about the Israelis' "disproportionate use of force" and "casualties and injuries resulting from the interventions of the Israeli security force."
Netanyahu responded sharply, saying that Turkey was in no position to lecture the IDF on its conduct during clashes in Gaza. Calling Israel the world's "most moral army," he dismissed Ankara's criticism as an April Fool's Day joke.
Last week, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) deployed live fire and used rubber bullets and tear gas against demonstrators who gathered for the 'Great March of Return' event, calling for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the territories now occupied by Israel.
Over 100 Israeli snipers were on standby and authorized to use live ammunition in case someone attempted to cross into Israeli-occupied territories. At least 17 people were killed during the unrest, and over 1,400 people were injured, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
Speaking to RT, David Keyes, a spokesperson for the Israeli PM, said the deaths during the 'Great Return' protest were the fault of Hamas, claiming that Israel was only defending itself from an "onslaught" of Palestinians trying to cross the border.
Mousa Abu Marzook, a deputy chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, however, disputed the official Israeli narrative, saying that "all who were killed did not come close to the border fence and did not attempt to take it by storm." They were killed by snipers from a long distance when they were inside the Gaza Strip, he told RT.
The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting shortly after the 'Great Return' protest clashes, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling for an investigation into the violence. Apart from Turkey, Jordan and Egypt also joined the criticism of the IDF for its lethal military response. Russia also condemned "the indiscriminate use of force against civilians" by the Israeli military.
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