Turkish President Erdogan calls Netanyahu 'butcher of Gaza'
ANKARA (AFP) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday branded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "the butcher of Gaza" and accused him of spawning anti-Semitism across the world.
Erdogan has lashed out repeatedly at Israel for the scale of death and destruction caused by its response to Hamas militants' unprecedented October 7 cross-border attack. He has branded Israel a "terrorist state" and called Hamas "a liberation group".
Erdogan redoubled those attacks during an appearance before his Islamic-rooted ruling party members in parliament. "Netanyahu has already written his name in history as the butcher of Gaza," Erdogan said in nationally televised remarks.
"Netanyahu is endangering the security of all Jews in the world by supporting anti-Semitism with the murders he committed in Gaza." Erdogan's sharp rhetoric has threatened to rupture Turkey's budding relations with Israel.
The two sides last year reappointed ambassadors following a decade-long rupture in ties. They had also been discussing developing closer trade relations and working on new energy projects that could have helped build longer-term trust.
The Gaza war prompted Israel to recall all diplomatic staff from Turkey and other regional countries as a security precaution. Turkey has also withdrawn its Tel Aviv envoy in protest at Israel's approach.
Mediators were trying Wednesday to extend an Israel-Hamas truce that has allowed 60 Israeli hostages and 180 Palestinian prisoners to be released since last week. Erdogan said Netanyahu's government was complicating those efforts by continuing to discuss plans to eradicate Hamas.
"Statements made by the Netanyahu administration diminish our hopes for the humanitarian pause to be transformed into a lasting ceasefire," Erdogan said. The truce agreement has brought a temporary halt to fighting that began when Hamas militants poured over the border into Israel, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping about 240.
Israel's subsequent air and ground campaign in Gaza has killed nearly 15,000 people, also mostly civilians, according to Hamas officials, and reduced large parts of the north of the territory to rubble.