Photo Credit: OIC / screen capture
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Istanbul, Dec. 13 2017

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being a “terrorist” on Sunday, and Israel of being a “terrorist state” after 16 Gazans – including 10 convicted terrorists – were killed Friday in the Hamas-driven ‘Great March of Terror’ along the Gaza border.

IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis pointed out late Friday that military personnel faced a “violent, terrorist demonstration at six points” along the Israel-Gaza border. At least two terrorists attempted to launch a shooting attack from northern Gaza, using the demonstrations as cover.

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One hundred IDF snipers were deployed to target leaders who were organizing violence and attempts to breach or damage the security fence. Manelis noted that all those who were killed were “ages 18 to 30… and at least two of them were members of Hamas commando forces.” Hamas itself later acknowledged that five of the dead were members of its military wing.

In response to the epithets, Prime Minister Netanyahu blasted the Turkish leader, saying, “The most moral army in the world will not be preached to by someone who for years has indiscriminately bombed civilian populations. Apparently this is the way they mark April Fool’s Day in Ankara.”

In a televised speech in the southern Turkish city of Adana, Erdogan called out Israel’s prime minister over the way the Israel Defense Forces fired at the tens of thousands of Gazans who swarmed the security fence along the border with Israel.

“Netanyahu! You’re an occupier, and it is as an occupier that you are on those lands,” Erdogan said. “At the same time, you’re a terrorist.” The day before, Erdogan “strongly condemned” the Israeli government over what he called “its inhumane attack.” Erdogan has long championed the rights of Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization, which was spawned by the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Turkey’s Islamist leader has for decades maintained a close affiliation.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also pointed out that the so-called “peaceful demonstration” was nothing of the sort, using women and children as decoys and human shields while terrorists carried out violence against Israel.

Some 30,000 Gazans tried to swarm the security fence, with many burning tires and hurling firebombs (Molotov cocktails) and rocks at the fence and at IDF soldiers. The IDF Spokesperson’s Office on Sunday morning released pictures of the weapons that were captured on Friday on the bodies of two terrorists who opened fire at an IDF force near the fence in northern Gaza, during the so-called “march of return.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.