Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in his most assertive remarks to date regarding the Gaza conflict, stated on Wednesday that the Palestinian militant group Hamas should not be designated as a terrorist organisation. Instead, he portrayed them as a liberation group engaged in a struggle to protect Palestinian territories and their inhabitants.
During an address to lawmakers from his ruling AK Party, Erdogan also called for an immediate ceasefire between Israeli and Palestinian forces and stressed the necessity for Muslim countries to work together to establish lasting peace in the region.
Erdogan stated, “Hamas is not a terrorist organisation; it is a liberation group, who are fighting to protect their lands and people.” He used the Arabic term ‘mujahideen,’ which refers to those who fight for their faith.
Erdogan also criticized Western nations that expressed support for Israel’s actions against Hamas, characterizing it as “Western tears shed for Israel are a manifestation of fraud.”
Many of Turkey’s NATO allies categorize Hamas as a terrorist organisation, and Erdogan’s remarks were swiftly criticized by Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini who mentioned the intention to send a formal protest and summon the Turkish Ambassador.
Turkey has deplored the civilian casualties resulting from Hamas’ actions in southern Israel on October 7 but has also urged Israel to exercise restraint. Turkey strongly condemned Israel’s extensive bombardment of Gaza. Additionally, Turkey offered to mediate in the conflict and sent multiple shipments of humanitarian aid.
Erdogan accused Israel of taking advantage of Turkey’s goodwill. Turkey had been working to mend its long-strained relations with Israel but subsequently canceled a planned trip to Israel due to the events in Gaza.
In addition to that, Turkey has suspended all energy agreements with Israel. Turkey, supports a two-state solution to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.