Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has once again called Israel a “terror state” over its attacks on the Gaza Strip, urging Turkish youth to get “to know it very well.”
“The whole world should know what this terror state of Israel is. I especially call out to the youth. You should get to know and understand this terror state Israel very well,” Erdoğan said on May 21 as he addressed the opening ceremony of the seventh section of the North Marmara Motorway.
He touched upon Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu's May 20 speech at the UN General Assembly during which the latter said Turkey would not stay silent in the face of Gaza violence.
Referring to Çavuşoğlu's speech as “successful,” Erdoğan said that Palestinians are expecting Turkey to fight for their rights.
Earlier this week, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price condemned Erdoğan’s rhetoric against Israel as “anti-Semitic” and called it “reprehensible.”
Without specifying which Erdoğan remarks the United States considered anti-Semitic, Price said: "We urge President Erdogan and other Turkish leaders to refrain from incendiary remarks, which could incite further violence. We call on Turkey to join the United States in working to end the conflict.”
Turkey wants Israel to be held accountable for crimes in Gaza
Meanwhile, the Turkish Foreign Ministry on May 21 released a statement with regards to the ceasefire struck between Israel and Hamas the day before.
The ministry said that although it welcomes the ceasefire with the hopes that it will last, Israel must be held to account for crimes it committed in Gaza the last two weeks.
The truce took hold on May 21 after the worst violence in years.
"In order to prevent a repeat of the pain and tears seen in Palestine, Israel must be held accountable in the international arena for the crimes it committed. A lifting of the inhumane siege it imposed on Gaza must be ensured," the ministry said, calling on the United Nations Security Council to take action.
Former allies Turkey and Israel have had a bitter falling-out in recent years despite strong commercial ties, mutually expelling ambassadors in 2018.
Ankara has repeatedly condemned Israel's occupation of the West Bank and its treatment of Palestinians, while playing down prospects of a rapprochement amid sharp policy differences.
Çavuşoğlu has said any rapprochement between the two sides was unlikely as long as Israeli policies towards Palestinians continued, and Erdoğan has said that while Ankara would like to improve ties with Israel, it cannot abandon its Palestinian policy.