The Turkish Prime Minister has compared Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu to the gunmen who killed 17 in the Paris attacks last week.
Ahmet Davutoglu said both had committed crimes against humanity, describing Israel's bombardments of Gaza and 2010 storming of a Turkish-led aid convoy headed there as on a par with the attacks in Paris, in which shoppers at a Jewish supermarket were among those killed.
The comments have escalated a war of words between the former allies. On Wednesday, Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's far-right foreign minister, called Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan an “anti-Semitic bully” for criticising Netanyahu's attendance, alongside other world leaders, at the solidarity march in Paris on Sunday.
Davutoglu also attended the rally, which he described as a march against terrorism.
“Just as the massacre in Paris committed by terrorists is a crime against humanity, Netanyahu, as the head of the government that kills children playing on the beach with the bombardment of Gaza, destroys thousands of homes ... and that massacred our citizens on an aid ship in international waters, has committed crimes against humanity,” the Turkish premier said.
Separately on Thursday, Erdogan's spokesman issued a statement saying it was Islamophobic and unacceptable for Netanyahu to link the Paris attacks to Islam.
“The Israeli government must halt its aggressive and racist policies instead of attacking others and sheltering behind anti-Semitism,” spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on the presidential website.
Turkey has condemned the attack last week on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, but also warned rising Islamophobia in Europe risks inflaming urest by Muslims.
Turkey and Israel previously enjoyed close diplomatic and military ties until relations were disrupted by the 2010 assault on the aid convoy.
More than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, died in Israel's 50-day war with the Islamist Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip last year, Gaza medical officials have said, while the Israeli death toll was 73, mostly soldiers.
“If Israel is looking for a bully, it needs to look in the mirror,” said Davutoglu, whose Islamist-rooted AK Party has held power in Turkey for over a decade.
Davutoglu has also criticised Turkish secular newspaper Cumhuriyet for publishing excerpts of Charlie Hebdo's latest edition.
“Freedom of press does not include insulting the Prophet,” Davutoglu said. “People who may tolerate insulting an individual will clearly not respond with the same degree when it is against the Prophet. Since Turkey has such a sensitivity, publishing a cartoon that aims to insult the Prophet is a clear incitement.”
The premises of Cumhuriyet have been secured by police after threats were made against the newspaper.
Around 1,500 Muslims in the Philippines, meanwhile, marched against the "double standards" of the Charlie Hebdo magazine yesterday, burning a front cover poster in protest of cartoons depicting Prophet Mohamed.
The crowd held banners and posters saying "France must apologise" and "You are Charlie, I am Mohamed", while a photograph of Netanyahu with a flag of Israel in the background, and a headline underneath saying "Zionist Conspiracy", was also held up.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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