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Erdogan calls Netanyahu a ‘tyrant’ as war of words heats up

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a joint press conference at the Turkish presidential complex in Ankara on December 20, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hit back at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the latter accused Turkey of invading Cyprus.

“By accusing [Turkey] of invasion in Cyprus, the Israeli prime minister may have confused his language. Rather, he wanted to say that they are invading Palestine and murdering women and children,” Erdogan said in Istanbul on Sunday.

“Netanyahu,” he continued, “you are banging on the wrong door. Erdogan is the voice of the oppressed, you are the voice of the tyrants. Netanyahu, you are the tyrant. Turkey is fighting terrorists. Israeli slaughterers have no right to blame anyone if they do not give their own account first.”

Erdogan's remarks came in response to a tweet posted by Netanyahu earlier in the day in which he slammed the Turkish presence in the north of Cyprus.

“Erdogan – the occupier of northern Cyprus, whose army massacres women and children in Kurdish villages, inside and outside Turkey – should not preach to Israel,” he said.

Also on Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called Netanyahu "a cold-blooded killer of modern times."

He added that Netanyahu is “responsible for massacres of thousands of Palestinians, bombing children on beaches. Turkey will never stop exposing the truth.”

The latest war of words is not the first of its kind. In April, Netanyahu launched a rhetorical attack against Erdogan over Cyprus after the Turkish leader called Israel a “terrorist state” following the Israeli army’s killing of Palestinian protesters in Gaza.

“Erdogan is not used to being answered back. He must learn to get used to it. He who occupies northern Cyprus and the Kurdish zone and slaughters civilians in Afrin, cannot make us preach values and morality,” Netanyahu said back then.

For over 40 years, Cyprus has been divided into the Greek mainland and a breakaway region called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is solely recognized by Ankara. The area is about a third of Cyprus and has about 20 percent of the island's population.

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