Turkey slams U.S. for labelling Israeli ‘terrorist’ acts as self defence

Turkey censored the United States for depicting Israeli acts, including its bombardment of the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, as self-defence.

"Massacring civilians. Forcing Palestinians to leave their homes and occupying their lands. Attacking mosques. Murdering innocent children. Since when are all those atrocities considered self-defence?" Fahrettin Altun, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s communications director, said on Twitter on Wednesday.

“Does the U.S. have not any reaction to these massacres and terrorist acts?" he said.

Israel and Hamas militants are trading air strikes after violence erupted at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque last week. Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, while the Israeli military has responded with ramped up bombings of Gaza.

The Israeli raids have killed at least 35 people, including 12 children, CNN reported on Wednesday citing Palestinian health officials. At least three Israelis have been killed by rockets, it said.

“Israel has the right to defend itself and to respond to rocket attacks,” U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at a press briefing late on Tuesday. “The Palestinian people also have the right to safety and security, just as Israelis do.”

The United States is deeply concerned by the reported loss of life in Gaza and Israel, including the deaths of children as well as the injury of many innocent civilians, Price said.

“We call on all sides to exercise restraint and to exercise calm,” he said.

Turkey is a staunch backer of Hamas against Israeli occupation of historical Palestinian lands. It hosts top Hamas officials and provides financial aid to Gaza and Palestinian groups in Jerusalem.

Hamas is recognised as a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union. Turkey’s support for the group and its strong public condemnation of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians has contributed to a deterioration in bilateral relations.