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Erdogan: Hamas won election
Photo: Reuters
Erdogan: Hamas not terror group
Turkish prime minister slams Israel for flotilla raid: 'If you don't understand in Turkish, I will say it in English: You shall not kill'. Meanwhile diplomat warns Turkey will sever ties with Israel unless it apologizes

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel Friday of murdering passengers on board the Turkish Marmara, which was sailing to Gaza as part of an aid flotilla.

 

"If you don't understand it in Turkish, I will say it in English: You shall not kill (sic)," he said, repeating the phrase in Hebrew.

 

Speaking at a ceremony in Konya, the prime minister announced that Hamas was not a terror organization. "They won an election. You always speak of democracy, but you will not let Hamas rule. What kind of democracy is that?" he asked.

 

"Hamas's resistance fighters were meant to defend their land. They won an election. I've told American officials before that I do not consider Hamas a terror organization, and I still don't. They are defending their land," he was quoted by Turkish media as saying.

 

Meanwhile Turkey's ambassador to Washington warned that his country could be forced to break relations with Israel unless it apologizes for its raid on the Marmara.

 

In a meeting with reporters, Namik Tan outlined three Turkish demands for Israel including a public apology. He said Israel also must accept a credible independent investigation of the raid and end its blockade against Gaza.

 

When asked if Turkey might break relations, Tan cited the high emotions of the Turkish public about the raid. He said: "We don't want this to go to that point."

 

But he added: "The government might be forced to take such an action." Tan said that Turkey has been a friend to Israel before adding: "It is about to lose that friend."

 

Earlier Friday Turkey announced it was considering scaling back its economic and military relations with Israel to a minimum. Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Turkey was assessing deals with Israel following Monday's raid on the Marmara.

 

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