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Turkey and Israel expelled each other’s envoys on Tuesday in an escalating diplomatic dispute over the killing by Israeli forces of 60 Palestinians a day during protests on the Gaza border.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry ordered Israeli Ambassador Eitan Naeh to leave the country for consultations for an undetermined period of time. In response, Israel ordered the Turkish consul in Jerusalem, Husnu Gurcan Turkoglu, who is responsible for Turkey’s relations with the Palestinians, to return home for consultations. Turkey’s ambassador to Tel Aviv had already been recalled, as had Turkey’s ambassador in Washington.

In response to Israel expelling the Turkish envoy, Turkey summoned Israel’s consul general in Istanbul, Yossi Levi Safri, and also asked him to leave the country.

Also Read: ‘Love, Peace and Fraternity’: After U.S., Guatemala Opens Jerusalem Embassy

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that “Netanyahu is the PM of an apartheid state. … He has the blood of Palestinians on his hands and can’t cover up crimes by attacking Turkey.” Commenting on Twitter, the Turkish president said Israel has been occupying the land of defenseless people in violation of United Nations resolutions. He suggested that Netanyahu consult the Ten Commandments if he wants a lesson in humanity.

Israeli ambassador to Turkey Eitan Naeh at the presidential Complex in Ankara, December 5, 2016.

In return, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Erdogan. “A man who sends thousands of Turkish soldiers to hold the occupation of northern Cyprus and invades Syria will not preach to us when we defend ourselves from an attempt by Hamas. A man whose hands are stained with the blood of countless Kurdish citizens in Turkey and Syria is the last person to preach to us about combat ethics.”
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