Press TV, Jerusalem - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu a “tyrant” who kills Palestinian children, as a heated war of words between the two officials continues.
“Hey Netanyahu, behave yourself. You are a tyrant, you are a tyrant who massacred seven-year-old Palestinian children,” Erdogan told supporters in capital Ankara.
The remarks were a direct response to Netanyahu's attacks earlier in the day, who called the Turkish head of state a “dictator” and “a joke” who put journalists in jail.
The fiery exchanges began a day earlier, when Turkey denounced Netanyahu for his “blatant racism" against Arab Israelis after the rightist premier said the occupied Palestinian territories only belonged to the Jewish people and not all citizens.
“Turkey’s dictator Erdogan attacks Israel’s democracy while Turkish journalists and judges fill his prisons,” Netanyahu wrote in an Instagram post. “What a joke!”
In his remarks on Wednesday, Erdogan pointed to Israel's ongoing violent crackdown on Palestinians in Jerusalem al-Quds, denouncing Israeli security forces for entering a “holy place.”
“Do not provoke. Look, we have not oppressed any of the Jews in this country. We have not done anything you did to any synagogues here. Don’t provoke us. We will not fall into this trap,” he warned Netanyahu.
Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan's spokesman, also reacted to Netanyahu's attacks, saying the Israeli PM was mad at Erdogan “for exposing him.
“The apartheid state he leads occupies Palestinian lands, kills women & children & imprisons Palestinians in their own land,” he wrote. "Lies and pressure will not hide your crimes."
Meanwhile, Turkish Presidency Communications Director Fahrettin Altun also lashed out on Wednesday at remarks by Israel's prime minister targeting the Turkish leader.
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results," Altun said, referring to a well-known quote from renowned scientist Albert Einstein.
Omer Celik, the spokesman for Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, took a swipe at Netanyahu.
"I return the dictator statement to Mr Netanyahu, who is the most suitable politician in the world for this designation," Celik said.
Turkey ended a political rift with Israel in 2016, six years after Israeli commandos stormed a Gaza-bound aid ship and killed 10 Turkish activists.
Netanyahu's demonization of Israeli Arabs, who make up some 17.5 percent of Israel's population, is a bid by him to increase right-wing turnout in upcoming general elections in April.
The embattled premier has been desperately trying to cause a splash on the political scene inside and outside of Israel over the past months as a distraction tactic to avert attention from his ongoing corruption case in the court. After the elections, he will attend a hearing to defend himself against the allegations which have dogged his campaign.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu pointed to Netanyahu's legal troubles in a tweet on Wednesday.