Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued a verbal spat with Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday, calling the Turkish president an “antisemitic dictator” who was “obsessed” with the Jewish state and its military.
Erdogan set off the latest exchange with an anti-Israel diatribe in a speech delivered at an Istanbul meeting of the Turkey Youth Foundation on Saturday.
“The Jews in Israel kick people lying on the ground,” he claimed. “In fact, Jews don’t kick men but also women and children when they fall on the ground. But as Muslims, we’ll confront these people if they have courage to deal with us, and we’ll teach them a lesson.”
Later on Saturday, in response, Netanyahu issued a statement, saying, “Erdogan — the occupier of northern Cyprus, whose army massacres women and children in Kurdish villages, inside and outside Turkey — should not preach to Israel.”
On Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu jumped into the action, tweeting, “The occupier which kicks people lying on the ground is easily offended. Netanyahu is a cold-blooded killer of modern times, responsible for massacres of thousands of innocent Palestinians, bombing children on beaches. Turkey will never stop exposing the truth.”
A spokesperson for Erdogan, Ibrahim Kalin, added on Twitter, “Instead of begging President Erdoğan not to speak out the truth, @netanyahu should end the lawless occupation of Palestinian lands and the brutal oppression of Palestinian people. Bashing Erdoğan or using Kurds as a political chip will not save him from his domestic troubles.”
And Erdogan himself, in another speech on Sunday, said of Netanyahu, “You are an oppressor, cruel and at the head of state terror,” and accused Israel of “occupying Palestine” and committing “sins, crimes against humanity, massacres.”
The Israeli prime minister followed with another statement, saying, “Just now I was exposed to the daily lunacy of the antisemitic dictator Erdogan. He is obsessed with Israel. He knows what a moral army is and he knows what a genuine democracy is, as opposed to an army that massacres women and children in Kurdish villages and a state that, to my regret, is becoming more dictatorial day by day.”
“But there has been an improvement,” Netanyahu concluded. “Erdogan used to attack me every two hours and now it is every six hours.”
The Netanyahu-Erdogan relationship remains bitter despite a 2016 reconciliation deal between their countries to restore ties that had been frozen following the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident in which 10 Turkish pro-Palestinian activists were killed in a violent clash with Israeli naval commandos aboard the MV Mavi Marmara.