Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Press Presidency Press Service via AP, Pool) (Press Presidency Press Service via AP, Pool)
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Israel responded sharply to criticism leveled against it by Turkish President Erdogan, calling it ” baseless slander” against “the only true democracy in the region.”

Israel responded sharply to criticism leveled against it by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who essentially declared a holy war against Israel when he called for thousands of Muslims to ascend the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

In remarks at the opening of the Al-Quds Waqf International Forum in Istanbul on Monday, Erdogan threatened that Turkey would not allow for Muslim prayers to be silenced in Jerusalem.

He was relating to an Israeli bill that prohibits the use of a public address system to call worshippers to prayer or to convey religious or national messages at certain times of day.

The law is primarily aimed at Muslim Muezzins who use mosque loudspeakers early in the morning and late at night to call worshippers to prayer, disturbing many citizens.

“Turkey attaches great importance to the justified resistance of the Palestinians and will not yield to Israeli attempts to change the status quo in the Al-Aqsa mosque,” said Erdogan. “We as Muslims should visit the Al-Aqsa mosque more often, every day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us.”

“The fact that such an issue is even coming to the agenda is shameful,” Erodgan said of the so-called Muezzin Bill. “Why are you afraid of the freedom of faith if you believe in your faith? I am now reminding Israeli administrators: If you believe in your faith, then why are you afraid of the sound of our prayers?”

Erdogan also called Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians “racist and discriminatory,” and said Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip “has no place in humanity.”

An Ally of Hamas

“Those who systematically violate human rights in their own country should not preach to the only true democracy in the region,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry stated.

“Israel consistently protects total freedom of worship for Jews, Muslims and Christians – and will continue to do so, despite the baseless slander launched against it,” Israel retorted.

Erdogan recently passed a series of bills in his country significantly curtailing human rights there and solidifying his position as a dictator.

Last August, Turkey and Israel agreed to normalize diplomatic ties following a six-year rift in their relationship, but Erdogan has a history of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic remarks.

Speaking to IDF Radio on Tuesday, former Israeli minister Gidon Sa’ar said the reconciliation with Turkey was a mistake, and that Jerusalem’s former close relationship with Ankara will never return as long as Erdogan is in power.

“Whoever thinks this was a singular occurrence is wrong,” Sa’ar said. ”Erdogan is no partner of Israel, he is an ally of Hamas [the Islamic terror group].”

However, Israeli Minister of Construction Yoav Galant dismissed Erdogan’s comments as mere rhetoric.

“The fact that he makes inflammatory remarks from time to time for political reasons, let him talk. We know how to talk as well,” Galant told IDF Radio. ”When it comes to practical issues, I thinks the Turks have other interests –Israeli gas and Israeli tourism,” relating to the results of the reconciliation pact between the two countries.

By: United with Israel Staff
JNS.org contributed to this report.