Turkey’s Erdogan Calls to ‘Immediately Restrain Israel’ After Iran Assault

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Emrah Gurel/AP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on Monday it was “vital” to “immediately restrain Israel” in response to Iran’s unprecedented missile assault on the Israeli homeland on April 13.

Erdogan’s office published a readout of the conversation on Monday in which the Islamist leader reportedly “stressed that the Islamic world should increase its efforts in unity to stop Israel’s brutal attacks and hold Israel to account for its crimes against humanity.”

The “brutal attacks” referenced are Israel’s ongoing self-defense efforts in Gaza against the jihadist terrorist organization Hamas, which executed a brutal massacre killing 1,200 people, abducting 250 others, and executing widespread acts of torture, gang rape, infanticide, and desecration of corpses on October 7, 2023.

The readout did not indicate that Erdogan condemned Iran’s attack or called for “restraint” for the world’s most prominent state sponsor of terrorism. Erdogan has repeatedly defended Hamas in the aftermath of October 7.

“President Erdoğan stated that it is of vital importance to immediately restrain Israel and act with common sense in order to prevent the tension from spreading across the region,” the readout noted.

Erdogan’s comments followed a direct attack by the Iranian military on Israel on Saturday featuring the launch of over 300 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles. While unprecedented in scale, the attack was a high-profile failure. According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Israel blocked 99 percent of the threats, including all UAVs and cruise missiles. Only one casualty, an Arab Bedouin girl injured by shrapnel, was documented.

Iranian authorities claimed the attack was a response to an airstrike on an Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, that killed seven members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) terrorist organization. Israel has not claimed responsibility for the strike.

A man spreads red paint with his hand on both an Israeli and U.S. flag as people hold a protest against the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s near the State Department in Ankara on November 6, 2023. (ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Erdogan’s conversation with al-Thani occurred on the same day that the emir spoke to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who used his phone call to threaten further provocations against Israel.

“The smallest action against Iran’s interests will definitely be met with a fierce, widespread and painful response against all its perpetrators,” Raisi said, according to the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News Agency.

Iran’s allies on the world stage, including Turkey, initially responded to the attack by calling for “restraint” on Israel’s part in responding. Erdogan’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan urged an end to “escalation” on Sunday in a conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, diverging in tone from Erdogan’s remarks to al-Thani on Monday. Amir-Abdollahian told Fidan, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, that Iran’s attack on Israel “has ended.”

Erdogan’s phone call with al-Thani precedes a visit to Doha by Fidan expected to begin on Wednesday.

“Minister Fidan will meet with Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Qatar, in Doha. During the meeting, bilateral relations as well as the situation in Palestine and regional developments will be discussed,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced.

Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper reported that Fidan would also meet with Hamas leaders while in Doha. Qatar offers lavish accommodations and safe haven to Hamas leaders as it has done with several other terrorist organizations, most prominently the Afghan Taliban prior to its return to power in Afghanistan.

Erdogan is one of the world’s most virulently anti-Israel leaders, openly embracing genocidal terrorist organizations such as the Iran-backed group Hamas. Following the October 7 atrocities, Erdogan repeatedly stated publicly that “Hamas is not a terrorist organization” and organized a rally in Turkey to support the jihadists, allegedly attracting 1.5 million people.

“Hamas is not a terrorist organization, it is a group of mujahideen defending their lands,” Erdogan proclaimed on October 25 during a meeting of his Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP). Mujahideen is a term meaning someone who engages in jihad.

Less than a week later, Erdogan led a rowdy gathering of hundreds of thousands of people at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport in support of Hamas. At the “Great Palestine Rally,” the Turkish strongman said the “regrettable” October 7 massacre could not “serve as an excuse for campaigns aimed at discrediting the resistance carried out by the Palestinian people under various names.”

“Israel, we will declare you to the world as a war criminal. We are preparing for introducing Israel to the world as a war criminal,” Erdogan said, repeating his false claim that “Hamas is not a terrorist organization.”

In ensuing months, Erdogan withdrew Turkey’s ambassador to Israel and he and the AKP began referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “Hitler.” AKP lawyers sent a letter to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in support of Hamas, accusing Netanyahu of “genocide” for engaging in self-defense actions against Hamas after October 7.

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