The spat continues as Erdogan calls Netanyahu a ‘thief’ and a ‘tyrant’

A handout picture taken and released on March 12, 2019, by the Turkish presidential press service shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking during the opening ceremony of the Gebze-Halkali suburban train line in Istanbul. (AFP/Turkish Presidential Press Service)
Updated 18 March 2019

The spat continues as Erdogan calls Netanyahu a ‘thief’ and a ‘tyrant’

  • Turkey on Tuesday denounced Netanyahu’s “blatant racism” after he called Israel the nation-state of “the Jewish people” only
  • “Turkey’s dictator Erdogan attacks Israel’s democracy while Turkish journalists and judges fill his prisons,” Netanyahu replied

ANKARA, Turkey: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “thief” and a “tyrant” in the latest spat between the two leaders.

The dispute comes after Erdogan's spokesman denounced Netanyahu as a racist for saying that Israel was the nation-state of the Jewish people only. Netanyahu then struck back calling Erdogan a dictator and criticizing the country for imprisoning journalists.

Speaking at an election campaign rally on Wednesday, Erdogan addressed Netanyahu as "the thief who heads Israel" in reference to corruption allegations against him.

Erdogan continued: “you are a tyrant. You are a tyrant who slaughters 7-year-old Palestinian kids.”

Israel and Turkey were once close allies. But under Erdogan, Turkey has become the most vocal critic of Israel's policies toward Palestinians.

In the same day Netanyahu slammed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a “dictator” and “a joke.”
Turkey on Tuesday denounced Netanyahu’s “blatant racism” after he called Israel the nation-state of “the Jewish people” only, not all its citizens.
Netanyahu’s initial comment had come amid an online spat sparked by Israel’s right-wing firebrand culture minister Miri Regev, ahead of April elections and subsequently joined by Israeli Hollywood star Gal Gadot.
Regev, a member of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, had in a TV interview warned voters not to support its main rival because it would ally with Israeli Arab parties — a highly unlikely scenario.
Israeli model and actress Rotem Sela responded on Instagram, asking: “When the hell will someone in this government convey to the public that Israel is a state of all its citizens and that all people were created equal?“
Netanyahu reacted with his own Instagram post, telling Sela: “Israel is not a state of all its citizens.”
“According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people — and only it,” he said, referring to a deeply controversial piece of legislation passed by his right-wing government last year.
Gadot, star of “Wonder Woman,” jumped to Sela’s defense.
“Love your neighbor as yourself,” Gadot wrote on Instagram late Sunday.
“This isn’t a matter of right or left. Jew or Arab. Secular or religious,” she wrote. “It’s a matter of dialogue, of dialogue for peace and security and of our tolerance of one toward the other.”
On Tuesday, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin weighed in on Netanyahu’s comments.
Writing on Twitter in both Turkish and English, he said: “I strongly condemn this blatant racism and discrimination.”
Netanyahu struck back in a statement from his office early Wednesday.
“Turkey’s dictator Erdogan attacks Israel’s democracy while Turkish journalists and judges fill his prisons,” it read.
“What a joke!“
Kalin was swift to respond on Twitter, accusing Netanyahu of attacking Erdogan “for exposing him” after the Israeli premier’s “racist remarks” toward Arabs and Muslims.
“The apartheid state he leads occupies Palestinian lands, kills women & children & imprisons Palestinians in their own land,” he wrote.
“Lies and pressure will not hide your crimes.”
Turkey and Israel have tense relations and Erdogan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, is a vocal critic of Israeli policies.
The two countries in 2016 ended a six-year rift triggered by the Israeli storming of a Gaza-bound ship that left 10 Turkish activists dead and led to a downgrading of diplomatic ties.
Netanyahu has been accused by critics of demonizing Israeli Arabs, who make up some 17.5 percent of the population, in a bid to boost right-wing turnout for April polls.
He is facing a tough challenge from a centrist political alliance led by former military chief of staff Benny Gantz and ex-finance minister Yair Lapid.
After the polls, he will also face a hearing to defend himself against corruption allegations which have dogged his campaign.


Turkish shelling kills 9 regime personnel in NW Syria: monitor

Updated 25 February 2020

Turkish shelling kills 9 regime personnel in NW Syria: monitor

  • UN says it was trying to double aid deliveries across a border crossing from Turkey from 50 to 100 trucks a day.
  • Idlib has seen hundreds of thousands of people flee the violence

BEIRUT: Turkish shelling Monday killed nine regime fighters in northwest Syria, where Ankara-backed rebels are fighting off advancing regime forces, a monitor said.
Syrian regime forces have since December clawed back parts of the last major opposition bastion of Idlib in violence that has displaced almost a million people.
Fighting raged on Monday, killing almost 100 fighters on both sides around the jihadist-dominated bastion, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.
Those included 41 pro-regime fighters, as well as 53 jihadists and allied rebels.
Overall on Monday, the regime advanced rapidly in the south of the bastion, but lost the town of Nayrab along the M4 highway to Turkish-backed rebels in the southeast.
Turkish shelling in that area killed four regime fighters near Nayrab and another five near the town of Saraqeb to its east, the Britain-based Observatory said.
Opposition fighters had already broken back into Nayrab last week after the regime seized it at the start of the month, but then lost it again several hours later.
Saraqeb, which lies at the intersection of the M4 and another important highway the M5, has been under regime control since February 8.
Earlier Monday, Russian air strikes killed five civilians in the Jabal Al-Zawiya area in the south of the bastion, the Observatory said.
In fighting on the ground, regime forces seized 10 towns and villages south of the M4, which links the coastal regime stronghold of Latakia to government-held second city Aleppo, it said.
State news agency SANA, for its part, said “units of the Syrian army continued to progress in the south of Idlib” province.
Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said the regime’s aim was to wrest back control of stretches of the M4 still under the control of jihadists and allied rebels.
That would require operations against the towns of Ariha and Jisr Al-Shughur, both along the M4.
Analysts expect a tough battle for Jisr Al-Shughur, held by the jihadist Turkistan Islamic Party whose fighters mainly hail from China’s Uighur Muslim minority.
They are allied to Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, a group led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate which dominates the Idlib region.
Loyalist forces have already taken back control of the M5, which connects the capital with Aleppo.
They have also secured the region around the northern city, a major pre-war industrial hub.
Fighting in northwest Syria since December has forced some 900,000 people to flee their homes and shelters amid bitter cold.
The United Nations said Monday that the latest fighting was coming “dangerously close” to encampments of the displaced, risking an imminent “bloodbath.”
Mark Cutts, a UN humanitarian coordinator, also told reporters in Geneva that the world body was trying to double aid deliveries across a border crossing with Turkey from 50 to 100 trucks a day.
Syria’s war has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced millions since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.