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Erdogan hits back at Netanyahu's son over 'occupation' claims

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Palestinian demonstrators run away from tear gas during an anti-occupation protest east of Gaza City on February 8, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hit back at the son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yair, for claiming that the city of Istanbul is under "Turkish occupation."

In a Twitter post earlier this week, Yair Netanyahu said, "Istanbul is actually a city called Constantinople! The capital of the Byzantine empire and center of orthodox Christianity for more than a thousand years before Turkish occupation!"

Speaking at an election rally on Friday, Erdogan fired back at Netanyahu's son, saying it is actually the Tel Aviv regime which has occupied the entire Palestinian land.

"You occupied the whole of Palestine!" he said. "If the world is looking for a country that oppresses, it's Israel. If they are searching for a terror state that too is Israel."

The Turkish president further described Netanyahu's son as "immoral."

A war of words began between Turkey and Israel recently, when the rightist Israeli prime minister said the occupied territories only belong to the Jewish people and not all citizens.

“Israel is not a state of all its citizens,” he wrote in an Instagram post. “According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and only it.”

Critics accused Netanyahu of demonizing the Arabs, who make up some 17.5 percent of Israel’s population, in a bid to boost right-wing turnout for the April legislative elections.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin strongly condemned Netanyahu’s “blatant racism and discrimination.”

In response, the Israeli premier called Erdogan a “dictator” who jails journalists and judges.

Erdogan, however, called Netanyahu a "thief" and a "tyrant who massacred seven-year-old Palestinian children.” 

He also criticized Israel for jailing 10,000 Palestinian women and children and disrespecting holy sites in Jerusalem al-Quds.

Ties between Ankara and Tel Aviv soured in 2010 after an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid flotilla killed 10 Turkish activists in high seas.

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Six years later, they reached an agreement to normalize their ties.

Their relations, however, sank to a fresh low in May 2018 after they expelled their envoys amid growing tensions over the Israeli killing of dozens of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

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