ISTANBUL, April 1 (Reuters) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu a “terrorist” on Sunday, escalating an exchange of insults that started after he criticized Israel’s lethal military response to a demonstration on the Gazan border.
Israel has defended the killing of 15 Palestinians during Friday’s demonstration and Netanyahu tweeted that the Israeli army “will not be lectured by those who have indiscriminately bombed civilian populations for years,” referring to Turkey.
WATCH: At least 15 Palestinians dead as violent clashes continue in Gaza
Erdogan told supporters on Sunday: “We don’t have the shame of invading on us, Netanyahu. You are an invader and right now are present in those lands as an invader. At the same time, you are a terrorist.”
In another speech he said: “You are a terrorist state. It is known what you have done in Gaza and what you have done in Jerusalem. You have no one that likes you in the world.”
WATCH: Call for inquiry after deadly day in Gaza
In a later tweet, Netanyahu said: “Erdogan is not accustomed to being answered back to, but he should start getting used to it. He who occupies northern Cyprus, encroaches on Kurdish territory and massacres civilians in Afrin cannot preach to us on values and morals.”
Israel’s defense minister has rejected calls for an inquiry into Friday’s events.
Hamas, the dominant Palestinian group in Gaza, said five of the dead were members of its armed wing. Israel said eight of the 15 belonged to Hamas, designated a terrorist group by Israel and the West, and two others came from other militant factions.