The Turkish president is stepping up criticism of Israel and its allies, demanding that Israeli officials be tried for war crimes.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has described Israel as a “terrorist state” and stepped up his condemnation of Israel’s attack on the besieged Gaza Strip ahead of a sensitive visit to Germany.

Erdogan said on Wednesday that Israel’s military campaign against the Palestinian armed group Hamas included “the most treacherous attacks in human history” with “unlimited” support from the West.

He called for Israeli leaders to be tried for war crimes at the International Court of Justice in The Hague and reiterated his view – and Turkey’s position – that Hamas is not a “terrorist organization” but a political party that won the last Palestinian parliamentary election in 2006.

“I say clearly that Israel is a terrorist state,” Erdogan told members of his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in parliament.

“While we curse the Israeli government, let us not forget those who openly support these massacres and those who go out of their way to legitimize them,” he said, referring to the United States and other Western allies of Israel.

“We are facing genocide,” Erdogan added.

He called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to announce whether Israel has nuclear weapons, adding that Netanyahu would soon lose his post.

Ankara will take measures to ensure that Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories are recognized as “terrorists,” he said.

Netanyahu said at an event in Israel that he would not allow himself to be “morally lectured” by the Turkish leader and said Erdogan supports “the terrorist state of Hamas.”

The Turkish leader took a more nuanced line immediately after Hamas’ attacks on southern Israel on October 7. According to Israeli officials, about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed and about 240 people were taken hostage.

But Erdogan’s rhetoric escalated as the scale of Israel’s military response increased.

Health officials in Hamas-controlled territory said more than 11,300 people were killed in Gaza, including more than 4,000 children.

Turkey this month recalled its ambassador to Israel and cut off official contacts with Netanyahu, suspending the two countries’ recent attempts to repair their rocky ties.

Israel has also said it is “reassessing” relations with Ankara after recalling its diplomatic staff from Turkey and other countries in the region for security reasons.

Erdogan made the comments two days before a planned meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who had to defend his decision to host the Turkish leader.

Germany has supported Israel and Scholz said he was against an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza.

“I don’t think the calls for an immediate ceasefire or a long break – which would amount to the same thing – are right,” Scholz said on Sunday.

“This would ultimately mean that Israel leaves Hamas the opportunity to recover and acquire new rockets,” he added, echoing the U.S. government’s position and calling for “humanitarian pauses” instead.

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