Israel recalls diplomats from Turkey

All Israeli diplomatic staff have been called back from Turkey following Turkish criticism of Israel's current military operations in Gaza. The order comes as pro-Palestine protests continue in Turkey with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stating Ankara is making preparations to proclaim Israel a “war criminal”.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said on Saturday that Israeli-Turkish ties were going to be reevaluated.

“Given the grave statements coming from Turkey, I have ordered the return of diplomatic representatives there in order to conduct a reevaluation of the relations between Israel and Turkey,” Cohen wrote.

In a speech to lawmakers on Wednesday, Erdogan said that “Hamas is not a terrorist organization, it is a group of freedom fighters, ‘mujahideen’ [holy warriors] waging a battle to protect its lands and people”. Erdogan also added that he had canceled plans to visit Israel over the bombardment of Gaza.

On Thursday, Erdogan said attacks on Gaza “have long passed the point of being self-defense,” adding, “It is now oppression, atrocity, massacre and barbaric.”

And on Saturday, Erdogan told a crowd of Palestinian supporters in Istanbul that they should leave the rally “with the determination to never allow new Gazas to arise”, adding that Turkey will present evidence of Israeli war crimes in Gaza to the world.

Israel’s operation in Gaza is “not defense, but an open, vicious massacre”, Erdogan told thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Istanbul.

“Israel has been openly committing war crimes for exactly 22 days, but Western leaders have not even called for a ceasefire,” he declared, adding that Turkey is gathering information to “present Israel to the world as a war criminal”.

Turkey has responded after Israel’s foreign affairs minister said he was withdrawing diplomats and planning a “reevaluation” of the relationship between the two countries on Saturday.

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in a statement that Israel “cannot even tolerate criticism and condemnation” even as it commits “a crime against humanity in front of the whole world”.

The ministry also responded to accusations of anti-Semitism against President Erdogan by Israeli officials, describing them as “baseless” and stressing that Turkey being a “safe haven” for Jewish people.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN earlier stated that Erdogan “remains an anti-Semite”, according to reports from Israel’s Army Radio.

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