Erdogan Sparks Outrage by Comparing Netanyahu to Hitler Amid Gaza Conflict

Turkish President Erdogan compares Israeli PM Netanyahu to Hitler, sparking outrage, as Turkey suspends $7 billion in trade with Israel over the Gaza conflict. The move is seen as a "game changer" in their bilateral ties, with experts warning of potential diplomatic fallout.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Erdogan Sparks Outrage by Comparing Netanyahu to Hitler Amid Gaza Conflict

Erdogan Sparks Outrage by Comparing Netanyahu to Hitler Amid Gaza Conflict

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sparked outrage by comparing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler, amidst escalating tensions and trade sanctions between Turkey and Israel over the Gaza conflict. Erdogan's comments come as Turkey suspended all trade with Israel, worth almost $7 billion last year, until Israel allows an uninterrupted and sufficient flow of aid into Gaza.

Why this matters: The escalating tensions between Turkey and Israel have significant implications for regional stability and global diplomacy, as both countries play important roles in the Middle East. The suspension of trade and the harsh rhetoric exchanged between Erdogan and Netanyahu could have long-term consequences for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the broader region.

In an interview with Greece's Kathimerini newspaper, Erdogan stated, "Netanyahu has reached a level that would make Hitler jealous with the genocidal methods he has put forward." He also described Gaza as an "open-air prison, not just after October 7, but for years before, like a concentration camp." This is not the first time Erdogan has made such a comparison. In December, he claimed that Netanyahu was worse than Hitler, prompting counter-accusations that Erdogan himself was guilty of genocide.

The two leaders have a long history of public attacks on each other, which have intensified alongside the deterioration of Israel-Turkey relations. Netanyahu has responded, saying Erdogan supports "mass murderers and rapists" of Hamas, denies the Armenian genocide, and massacres Kurds in his own country. Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Erdogan of acting like a dictator, disregarding the interests of the Turkish people and businessmen, and ignoring international trade agreements.

The latest comments come amid a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. A UN-backed assessment reported that 1.1 million people are facing catastrophic hunger, and famine is imminent in northern Gaza by May. The US has built a pier to facilitate the flow of aid into Gaza, but the UN says a maritime corridor can never be a substitute for delivery by land. Israel reopened the Erez Crossing into the northern Gaza strip for aid convoys, but Jordan reported that some of its aid lorries were attacked by Israeli settlers before reaching the crossing.

The Israel-Hamas war was sparked by the October 7 terror attack, which killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seized 252 hostages. Israel launched an aerial campaign and subsequent ground operation in response, vowing to destroy Hamas and end its rule in the Gaza Strip. Turkey and Israel's on-again, off-again alliance has seemingly fallen apart over the conflict.

Experts see Turkey's decision to halt all trade with Israel as a "game changer" in their bilateral ties. Nimrod Goren, Israeli affairs expert at the Middle East Institute, stated that the recent move is a "big-time change in the nature of relations." Gallia Lindenstrauss, from the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel, warned that diplomatic relations might also be in danger, likening the trade component to "oxygen" for the bilateral ties.

The escalating tensions between Turkey and Israel highlight the fragility of their relations, impacted by domestic political dynamics in each country. As the Gaza conflict continues, with mediators awaiting a response from Hamas to the latest ceasefire proposal, the international community, led by the US, is urging both Israel and Hamas to agree to a deal to bring about a ceasefire and free the remaining hostages held in Gaza.

Key Takeaways

  • Turkish President Erdogan compares Israeli PM Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler amid Gaza conflict.
  • Turkey suspends $7 billion in trade with Israel until aid flows freely into Gaza.
  • Erdogan calls Gaza an "open-air prison" and Netanyahu accuses Erdogan of supporting Hamas.
  • 1.1 million people in Gaza face catastrophic hunger, with famine imminent by May.
  • Turkey's trade halt is seen as a "game changer" in its relations with Israel, putting diplomatic ties at risk.