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Israeli foreign minister, Turkish foreign ministry trade barbs over Gaza war

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Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz and the Turkish Foreign Ministry have exchanged barbs over the ongoing Israeli war in Gaza, with each side accusing the other of committing a “genocide” and acts of “barbarism.”

In the wake of harsh criticism from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of the latest Israeli attack on Gaza over the weekend, which killed 45 people, mostly women and children sheltering in tents in Rafah in the south Gaza Strip, Katz tweeted that it is “dictator” Erdoğan himself who should be accused of genocide, accusing him of murdering Kurdish citizens, occupying the north of Cyprus and committing crimes against humanity.

Erdoğan said on Monday that Turkey would do “everything possible” to hold “barbaric” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to account over deadly strikes in Rafah.

“We will do everything possible to hold these barbarians and murderers, who have nothing to do with humanity, to account,” Erdoğan said, while once again likening Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler.

He said Netanyahu will be remembered and condemned like Hitler and other leaders such as Slobodan Milošević, the former president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and Bosnian Serb politician Radovan Karadžić, who faced genocide charges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Katz’s tweet targeting Erdoğan drew an angry response from the Turkish Foreign Ministry, which in a statement later on Monday accused him of trying to change the agenda about Israel’s crimes in Palestine with “baseless accusations.”

“It is the Netanyahu Government that has killed nearly 40,000 Palestinians since October and barbarically massacred dozens of innocent Palestinians in an attack on a tent camp last night. All those who are complicit in these crimes will be brought to justice before international courts,” the ministry said in its statement, adding that Turkey will continue to advocate for justice and the rights of Palestinians.

The Gaza Strip is suffering a humanitarian crisis caused by Israel’s military campaign against Hamas that has been going on since October 7, with the United Nations and aid agencies warning of impending famine.

The war started with Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel that resulted in the death of roughly 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and some 250 people taken hostage.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed at least 36,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry, and has devastated the Gaza Strip.

Turkey is one of the most outspoken critics of Israel’s war on Gaza, accusing the Israeli government of committing “war crimes” and “genocide” in the enclave. In early May Turkey’s Trade Ministry announced that it was suspending all trade with Israel until it allows aid to enter Gaza unhindered during its offensive against Hamas militants.

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