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Israeli officials respond to Erdogan’s Hamas comments

The Israel Defense Forces will show the militant group’s true colors to the world, an IDF spokesman has said

Israeli officials have pushed back against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s speech on Wednesday in which he called the Gaza-based militants “a liberation group.”

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Daniel Hagari, told journalists that same day that the Israeli military will now seek to prove that Erdogan’s claim is false.

“I heard what Erdogan said…Hamas is worse than a terrorist organization,” Hagari replied when asked about the Turkish leader’s comments. “The people responsible for the massacre wanted death and horror, and it is our duty to show that to the world.”

Separately, the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s spokesman, Lior Haiat, blasted Erdogan in a statement published on Wednesday on X (formerly known as Twitter).

“Israel wholeheartedly rejects the Turkish president’s harsh words about the terrorist organization Hamas,” he said, adding that the “despicable” group is worse than the infamous Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) – a notorious terrorist organization known for its brutality that controlled parts of Syrian and Iraqi territory between 2013 and 2019.

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“Even the Turkish president’s attempt to defend the terrorist organization and his inciting words will not change the horrors that the whole world has seen,” the official added.

Speaking in parliament earlier on Wednesday, Erdogan said that Hamas was not a terrorist organization but “a liberation group waging a battle to protect its lands and people.” The Turkish leader also condemned the continued Israeli bombing campaign against Gaza and canceled his previously planned visit to the state.

Erdogan described the Israeli attacks on Gaza as an “intentional massacre” and accused West Jerusalem of taking advantage of his nation’s good intentions. According to local media reports, Türkiye also suspended its energy projects with Israel.

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Israel’s bombing campaign against Gaza, which was launched in response to a surprise attack by Hamas, which killed more than 1,400 Israelis, has already claimed the lives of more than 5,000 people, according to the UN.

Ankara’s stance has also provoked angry reactions among the American Jews. The leaders of some American Jewish organizations denounced Erdogan over canceling his visit to Israel and claiming Hamas was not a terrorist group.

William Daroff, the CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, branded the Turkish leader a “charlatan” in a talk with the Jewish Insider, adding that Erdogan “is much more interested in promoting the murder of Jews than he is in being a man of peace who’s interested in engaging in a positive way in the Middle East.”

Abe Foxman, a former longtime national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the media he was “sad to see the old, hateful Erdogan surface again.” Foxman, who met the Turkish president last month in New York, also said he talked to him about the then-upcoming visit to Israel “in a tone of deep friendship and celebration.” The Jewish leader then claimed that Erdogan was guided by a “cynical” self-interest.


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