Israel: We Won’t Remain Silent to Turkish Criticism of Gaza Strikes

Jerusalem (Gad Amiton/TPS) – In a rare occurrence in recent years, Israel has responded to harsh accusations voiced earlier in the day by Turkey, following IDF retaliatory airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza. “The normalization of ties with Turkey does not mean that we will remain silent in the wake of its baseless condemnation of Israel,” said Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Emmanuel Nachshon. “It would be better for Turkey to think twice before criticizing military operations by other countries.”

Nachshon was apparently referring to the Turkish government’s own record of frequent use of strong military force against minorities and in reaction to protests. The most recent example was the government’s reaction to last month’s coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan which was met by a major crackdown on the country’s military. Thousands of public servants and army officers, including generals, were fired and prosecuted.

The Israeli response comes after years in which frequent criticism by Turkey usually remained unanswered by Israeli officials. The mutual barbs come despite the recent reconciliation deal between the countries, which was ratified several days ago by the Turkish parliament.

The Israeli army conducted about 50 strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday and Monday in response to a rocket fired from Beit Hanoun that landed near residential buildings in the Israeli city of Sderot.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a strong condemnation of the strikes. “The normalization of relations with Israel does not mean that we have to remain silent about attacks against the Palestinian people in Gaza,” read a statement by the ministry which was quoted on Turkish media. “On the contrary, we will continue to defend the Palestinian issue in the face of Israeli actions which violate international law and are contrary to basic human morality.”

Relations between Israel and Turkey were severely damaged during the tenure of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The crisis reached its height after the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010. IDF forces were attacked while boarding a ship that attempted to breach the blockade on the Gaza Strip, resulting in the death of nine Turks. Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Israel and expelled the Israeli ambassador over the incident.

The countries recently signed a reconciliation deal in which Israel promised to allow Turkey to send humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip via the Ashdod port in Israel. In turn, Turkey promised to stop allowing terror organizations such as Hamas to plot attacks against Israel or to raise funds from Turkish territory.

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