Turkey’s Erdogan says Israeli PM Netanyahu no different from Hitler

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers statements, in Budapest, Hungary, December 18, 2023. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo/File Photo © Thomson Reuters

ANKARA (Reuters) -Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was no different from Adolf Hitler and likened Israel’s attacks on Gaza to the treatment of Jewish people by the Nazis.

NATO member Turkey, which supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has criticised Israel’s air and ground assault on Gaza, called it a “terror state” and said its leaders must be tried in international courts.

Sharpening his rhetoric, Erdogan said Turkey would welcome academics and scientists facing persecution for their views on the conflict in Gaza, adding Western countries supporting Israel were complicit in what he called war crimes.

“They used to speak ill of Hitler. What difference do you have from Hitler? They are going to make us miss Hitler. Is what this Netanyahu is doing any less than what Hitler did? It is not,” Erdogan said.

“He is richer than Hitler, he gets the support from the West. All sorts of support comes from the United States. And what did they do with all this support? They killed more than 20,000 Gazans,” he said.

Netanyahu responded by saying the Turkish president should be the last person to lecture Israel.

“Erdogan, who commits genocide against the Kurds, who holds a world record for imprisoning journalists who oppose his rule,” Netanyahu said in a statement, “is the last person who can preach morality to us.”

Despite its criticism of Israel, Turkey has maintained commercial ties, drawing a backlash from opposition parties and Iran. Ankara says trade with Israel has fallen sharply since Oct. 7, when the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a deadly cross-border rampage that killed 1,200 people, prompting Israel to launch its war on Hamas.

Unlike its Western allies and some Arab nations, Turkey does not view Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

Source: Reuters/Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Additional reporting by Emily Rose in Jerusalem; Editing by Daren Butler, Jon Boyle, Alexandra Hudson