5th December 2023 – (Ankara) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being a war criminal and stated that he would eventually be tried for his actions in the ongoing offensive in the Gaza Strip. Erdogan made these remarks during a speech at an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) committee meeting in Istanbul on Monday.
Turkey, which supports a two-state solution to the long-standing Israel-Palestine conflict, has been highly critical of Israel’s campaign in Gaza. The offensive was launched in response to the actions of the militant group Hamas on 7th October. According to Gaza’s health ministry, more than 15,500 people have been killed in the Israeli air and ground attacks.
During his speech, Erdogan condemned Western nations for their unconditional support of Israel and accused them of being complicit in its crimes. He stated that Netanyahu, whom he referred to as the “butcher of Gaza,” would be tried for his actions, drawing a parallel with the trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes at The Hague tribunal.
Erdogan criticised Western powers for attempting to downplay the deaths of innocent civilians by using the excuse of Hamas. He referred to these powers as “blind and deaf” and argued that they had nothing meaningful to say to humanity.
Unlike many of its Western allies and some Gulf states, Turkey, a member of NATO, does not consider Hamas a terrorist group and hosts some of its members.
Erdogan also mentioned the newly formed contact group of Muslim countries, established by the OIC and Arab League, which aims to hold talks with Western countries and others regarding the situation in Gaza. He stated that these discussions would continue until the fighting in Gaza ceased, but emphasised that more needed to be done.
The Turkish President called for the evaluation of the United Nations Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court (ICC) within the framework of addressing the Gaza conflict. He also highlighted the importance of not forgetting Israel’s nuclear arsenal.
Erdogan, who has long advocated for the reform of the United Nations Security Council to be more inclusive, criticized the UN for failing the test in Gaza and called for urgent reform. He reiterated that the Security Council’s five permanent members—the United States, Russia, China, Britain, and France—did not adequately represent the world.