Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been very clear thus far in condemning Israel's ongoing military operation in Gaza while progressively ratcheting his fiery rhetoric, and simultaneously Turkey-Israel ties are spiraling toward breaking point.
Already, ambassadors have been recalled in tit-for-tat fashion, but Wednesday saw Erdogan escalate yet again by calling Israel a "terror state". He told members of his hardline Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in a speech before parliament: "I say clearly that Israel is a terror state."
"While we curse the Israeli administration, we do not forget those who openly support these massacres and those who go out of their way to legitimize them," he continued, in a clear reference to the United States and Western allies of Israel. And not for the first time, he denounced "genocide" unfolding.
"We are faced with a genocide," Erdogan emphasized, perhaps in reference to the broader Muslim world. He also personally lashed out at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying he'll soon be a "goner" from his office, amid growing Israeli domestic anger at his failure to protect citizens, in the wake of the Oct.7 terror attacks.
Erdogan also once again pressed Israel to formally declare its secret nuclear arsenal: "Your end is nigh, anyway, whether you have nuclear weapons or not" - and in response he drew loud applause.
That's when he said: "We see Netanyahu flanked by ministers in his news conferences. He thinks these ministers will save him. Netanyahu is a goner." The Turkish leader characterized Israel's strategy as one of seeking to destroy "an entire city with its people".
And after France's Macron recently began condemning the soaring Palestinian death toll, Erdogan commented:
"The West, particularly the United States, unfortunately, exhibits a different stance (than others criticizing Israel). For instance, France changed its stand. They act differently one day and backtrack the following day. Be honest. Be like Türkiye."
All of this comes after early in the crisis Erdogan had vowed to get the Jewish state branded a "war criminal" before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Likely this won't happen, and is more symbolic than anything.
⚡️ERDOGAN: "Hey Israel, you have a nuclear bomb and you are threatening with this. We know this. Your end is nigh, anyway, whether you have nuclear weapons or not. You're on your way out."— Middle East Observer (@ME_Observer_) November 15, 2023
Hopefully we will see Turkey cut off the oil and metal exports to Israel, as well as all… pic.twitter.com/qvIzWIApMH
From Tel Aviv's perspective, Erdogan's ratcheting rhetoric in denouncing Israeli war crimes will likely been seen as unforgiveable, even after this current crisis is over. Turkey and Israel have long clashed over the Palestinian issue, and these tensions have now exploded back into full force.
In an earlier speech late last month, Erdogan called Israel a "pawn" of Western powers. "Everyone knows that Israel is a pawn in the region that will be sacrificed when the time comes," he said at the time. "I said in Davos, you know how to kill. They know well how to kill."