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Turkey cannot accept Israel’s policy of depopulating Gaza: Erdoğan

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Turkey cannot accept Israel’s policy of depopulating the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday, reiterating his accusation that Israel is a “terrorist state,” the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Erdoğan has been an increasingly vocal critic of the soaring civilian death toll from Israel’s response to the Palestinian militant group Hamas’s October 7 attacks, the deadliest in Israel’s history.

“We cannot and will not tolerate the policy of the state of Israel, which has grown through constant occupation, land grabs and massacre of the oppressed, to make the Gaza Strip uninhabited,” Erdoğan said during a speech at the Algeria-Turkey Business Forum.

Erdoğan paid a one-day visit to Algiers to meet with his counterpart, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, and to attend the second meeting of the Turkish-Algerian Cooperation Council, where the presidents also discussed Israel’s ongoing attacks on Gaza.

“The attacks, which have killed more than 13,000 of our Palestinian brothers, have once again revealed the true face, intention and goals of Israel and its supporters.

“In this regard, it is very important that the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel do not go unpunished,” Erdoğan said.

All “conscientious” countries and the Islamic world have a responsibility to ensure that Israel does not commit “similar atrocities” again, he said, adding, “We must know this once and for all. Israel is a terrorist state. There is no reason to hesitate to say this. This is the truth we know. That is the case.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must be brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC), Erdoğan said.

“Netanyahu is a goner. Even the Israeli people no longer support him,” he said, adding that Turkey would not allow the issue of nuclear weapons, the existence of which is denied by Israeli ministers, to be forgotten.

“Israel, say whether you have a nuclear bomb or not. [It] can’t say it. But look, we are saying it. Israel, you have the atomic bomb.

“We will take initiatives before both the UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on this issue, which threatens the security of the entire region, including Turkey,” Erdoğan added.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas in response to the attacks, which killed an estimated 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and saw 240 hostages taken to Gaza.

Israel retaliated with a bombing campaign and ground offensive in Gaza, which, according to the Hamas government in the territory, has killed 14,100 people, mainly civilians that included thousands of children.

On Wednesday, a deal was reached between Israel and Hamas to free hostages and pause the fighting and bombardment in Gaza, in the first major diplomatic breakthrough in the war. Palestinian militants are set to release 50 women and children kidnapped in southern Israel.

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