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Erdoğan says Israel will ‘set sights’ on Turkey if Hamas defeated

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey's President and leader of the Justice and Development Party Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivers a speech during his party's group meeting in the Turkish Parliament in Ankara, on October 25, 2023. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP)

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday claimed that Israel would “set its sights” on Turkey if it succeeded in defeating Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Agence France-Presse reported.

Erdoğan, a vocal critic of Israel’s war in the Palestinian territory following Hamas’s attack on October 7, has often expressed support for the Palestinian group as defenders of their homeland.

Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union, among others.

“Do not think that Israel will stop in Gaza,” Erdoğan told his party lawmakers in the parliament in the capital of Ankara.

“Unless it’s stopped … this rogue and terrorist state will set its sights on Anatolia sooner or later,” he said, referring to the large Turkish peninsula also called Asia Minor that comprises more than half of Turkey’s territory.

“We will continue to stand by Hamas, which fights for the independence of its own land and which defends Anatolia,” added Erdoğan.

The Turkish leader on Monday said more than 1,000 members of Hamas were being treated in Turkish hospitals amid the ongoing war in Gaza.

However, a Turkish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to Reuters later, said that Erdoğan had meant to refer to Palestinians from Hamas-run Gaza in general rather than Hamas members who were being treated in Turkey.

The October 7 attack on Israel resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also seized some 250 hostages, 128 of whom Israel estimates remain in Gaza, including 36 the military says are dead.

Israel’s bombardment and offensive in Gaza have killed more than 35,000 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

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