Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday told his Justice and Development (AK) Party’s parliamentary group meeting in Ankara that “Hamas is not a terrorist organization, it is a liberation organization that is waging a struggle for its land.”
Erdogan told his party’s lawmakers that he had canceled his plan to visit Israel in light of the ongoing Gaza conflict. He noted that Turkey had no problem with the Israeli state, but will never approve of it committing atrocities.
“The Jewish people know well that Turkey is the only country that has been without antisemitism for centuries,” he added and reminded his audience that Turkey welcomed Jews who had been driven out of other countries during both World War II and the Ottoman era.
As recently as last week, Israel’s National Security Council (NSC) raised its travel warning to Turkey to the highest level – level 4 – for all areas of the country. All Israelis in Turkey were urged to leave immediately.
The NSC recommended that Israelis who had not left Turkey take extreme measures and avoid, as much as possible, gatherings and public places, the overt display of Israeli and Jewish indicators, and places identified as Jewish or have an Israeli connection.
For his part, Erdogan urged an immediate cease-fire in the conflict, and said “all parties in the Palestine-Israel war should take their fingers off the trigger.”
Last July, Turkey reported arresting seven Mossad agents who were reportedly roaming around in search of Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists.