Erdoğan to Israeli PM: You are a terrorist and an occupier
“He says our soldiers are oppressing people in Afrin. Netanyahu, you are very weak, very poor,” Erdoğan said at a ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) congress in the southern province of Adana on April 1, addressing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Calling the Israeli leader “an occupier” in Palestine, Erdogan said Netanyahu has no right to criticize Turkey.
“You are not popular. The step you took regarding Jerusalem at the United Nations is out in the open. The answer you received is out in the open. Stop bragging about owning nuclear weapons. The time may come when those weapons don’t work,” Erdoğan added.
“You are also a terrorist. History is recording what you have done to all those oppressed Palestinians,” Erdoğan said, adding that he believes Israelis too are disturbed by Netanyahu’s misdeeds.
His harsh language came after thousands of Palestinians marched to Gaza’s border with Israel on March 30 and at least 16 Gazans were killed and hundreds of other were injured when Israeli forces opened fire on protesters marking “Land Day.”
Land Day is an annual Palestinian commemoration of the deaths of six Arab citizens of Israel killed by Israeli forces in 1976 during demonstrations over government land confiscations in northern Israel.
March 30’s rallies were the start of a six-week protest that culminates on May 15, the day the Palestinians call “Nakba,” or “the Catastrophe,” when Israel was founded.
The demonstrators are demanding that Palestinian refugees be allowed the right of return to towns and villages which their families fled from, or were driven out of, when the state of Israel was created in 1948.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also raised his voice and hit back at Erdoğan on April 1 over his sharp criticism of Israel.
“The most moral army in the world will not be lectured to on morality from someone who for years has been bombing civilians indiscriminately,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan said a total of 3,844 terrorists have been “neutralized” since the start of “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria’s Afrin region.
“We will not stop until the last terrorist is wiped out from our region,” the president said on April 1.
Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” in their statements to imply the militants in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” on Jan. 20 to clear Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants from Afrin near Turkey’s border with Syria.
On March 18, Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Turkish troops entered the town center of Afrin, which had been controlled by the YPG since 2012.