Turkey will not remain silent if Israel attacks Lebanon

November 25, 2010 12:00 am

, BEIRUT, Nov 25 – Turkey will not remain silent if Israel attacks Lebanon or Gaza, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in Beirut on Thursday, as ties between the longtime allies remained at an all-time low.

"Does (Israel) think it can enter Lebanon with the most modern aircraft and tanks to kill women and children, and destroy schools and hospitals, and then expect us to remain silent?" Erdogan said at a conference organised by the Union of Arab Banks.

"Does it think it can use the most modern weapons, phosphorus munitions and cluster bombs to kill children in Gaza and then expect us to remain silent?

"We will not be silent and we will support justice by all means available to us."

Turkey was once Israel\’s closest military and diplomatic ally in the Middle East but ties began to deteriorate when Ankara criticised Israel\’s December 2008 to January 2009 offensive against Gaza.

Relations then nosedived on May 31, 2010 when Israeli naval commandos stormed a Turkish-registered protest ship, the Mavi Marmara, part of a flotilla attempting to break the Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory.

Nine Turkish activists were killed in the operation.

Erdogan has said his country will not begin to restore relations with Israel until it apologises for its "savage attack" on the vessel.

Thursday was the final day of the Turkish premier\’s two-day visit to Lebanon, during which he inaugurated a burns treatment centre in Sidon, a major southern coastal city.

South Lebanon was badly hit during the Hezbollah militia\’s deadly 2006 war with Israel.


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