Turkey warns Israel against attacks

Turkish prime minister says he will not "stay silent" if Israel attacks Gaza or Lebanon.

    Erdogan made the comments as he met with Saad al-Hariri, the Lebanese prime minister (left) [AFP]

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, has said his country will not stay silent if Israel attacks Lebanon or Gaza.

    Erdogan made the comments at a conference in the Lebanese capital on Thursday, at a time when ties between Turkey and Israel are at an all-time low.

    "Does [Israel] think it can enter Lebanon with the most modern aircraft and tanks to kill women and children, and destroy schools and hospitals, and then expect us to remain silent?" he said as he met Saad al-Hariri, his Lebanese counterpart.

    "Does it think it can use the most modern weapons, phosphorus munitions and cluster bombs to kill children in Gaza and then expect us to remain silent?

    "We will not be silent and we will support justice by all means available."

    Israel used cluster bombs in its month-long conflict against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in 2006.

    Strained ties

    Relations between the two countries first soured when Turkey criticised Israel's offensive against Gaza in early 2009.

    They took a further turn for the worse in May this year when Israeli naval commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-registered protest ship, which was part of a flotilla attempting break the Israeli blockade of Gaza to deliver aid to the region.

    Erdogan has said his country will not begin to restore relations with Israel until it apologises for its "savage attack" on the vessel.

    The prime minister has been on a two-day visit to Lebanon, during which he also called on all sides to find solutions over the international tribunal on the murder of Rafiq al-Hariri, the country's fomer prime minister.

    His visit has sparked protests in the capital by Lebanese people of Armenian descent, who still harbour deep animosity towards Turkey over the 1915 killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians.

    Protesters on Thursday tore up a large poster of Erdogan and pelted troops with rocks. Security forces responded by beating up a number of them, but there were no reports of major injuries.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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