Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan could not definitively state who was “more barbarous;” Hitler during the Holocaust or Israelis in Gaza.
In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 Television, host Illana Dayan asked Erdogan if he had any regrets over 2014 comments during which the Turkish President labeled Israel’s actions in Operation Protective Edge as “more barbaric than Hitler.”
Erdogan defended his comments saying, “I do not agree with what Hitler did, and I also don’t agree with what Israel did in Gaza. Therefore, there’s no place to compare and see who was more barbaric,” he said.
Ironically, the interview was a symbolic reconciliation between the two countries after years of diplomatic freeze following the so-called Flotilla Incident of 2010, in which a Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara flotilla with activists aboard sought to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Nine activists died.
Last week after both countries named new ambassadors to the other.
Erdogan’s last interview with Israeli press was more than 10 years ago.
In an interview covering many topics, Erdogan continued his criticism of Israel, accusing them of carrying out a “genocide” against the Palestinians and defended Hamas as a “legitimate” political movement.
After a few questions on the failed July coup in Turkey, attention was quickly focused to the subject of newly restored relations between the two.
“You killed thousands of people in Gaza and Palestine, I have said that you (Israel) know very well how to kill people. I said that in Davos,” he added, referring to comments he aimed at Israel’s late President Shimon Peres, during a harsh exchange at the 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos.
He also defended Hamas’ indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians, calling the group a political and non-terrorist organization.
“In my opinion, Hamas is not a terror organization. Hamas is a political movement, born out of national resurrection. Up until now you have sat with Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah, have you achieved results?” he asked viewers.
The U.S. and several countries including Israel, Canada, Egypt and Jordan have outlawed Hamas, and the U.S. has officially designated the group a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Erdogan continued with the criticisms of Israel, insinuating that the land does not just belong to the Jews.
“Israel is attempting to assert control over the Al-Aqsa Mosque, this is not acceptable. We must be watchful that Israel does not assume control through archeological means. Jerusalem is sacred to three religions and everyone must respect that,” he added.