Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan .
(photo credit: GERARD FOUET / AFP)
In response to a rebuke issued Monday afternoon by the Turkish government following a military strike on the Gaza Strip, the Foreign Ministry released a stern reply calling the comments "baseless," adding that Turkey had little latitude in criticizing the military actions of other nations.
"The normalization of our relations with Turkey does not mean that we will remain silent in the face of its baseless condemnations," the Foreign Ministry said.
"Israel will continue to defend its innocent civilians from all rocket fire on our territory, in accordance with international law, and according to our responsibility our conscience. Turkey should think twice before criticizing the military actions of others."
Turkey on Monday slammed Israel for its retaliatory strikes on Gaza
overnight in response to a rocket attack launched by terrorists in the Strip, saying it would not desist from such condemnation despite the reconciliation of ties between Ankara and Jerusalem.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry lambasted Israel for its "hostile attitude," while avoiding any denouncement of the Gaza projectile strike that landed in a populated area of the southern Israeli city of Sderot.
"The attacks, which caused injuries to innocent Palestinian civilians, are not acceptable regardless of their grounds," Turkey's Andalou News Agency quoted the Turkish ministry as saying.
Damage seen from IAF airstrikes in Gaza
The Turkish government vowed to back the Palestinian side against what it said were disproportionate Israeli actions that breach international law.
"Normalizing ties with Israel does not mean that we will keep silent in the face of attacks against the Palestinian people," the Turkish Foreign Ministry was quoted as stating.
The IDF launched a series of air strikes overnight in the Gaza Strip, hitting dozens of terror targets in response to the latest rocket attack on Israel.
While unconfirmed reports claimed that a Salafi group in Gaza claimed responsibility for Monday's rocket attack, Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks originating in the coastal enclave. Meanwhile, Hamas, the terrorist organization that runs Gaza, blamed Israel for the escalation in the South.
The Turkish statement came two days after Turkey's parliament approved
a reconciliation deal to mend a six-year rupture in ties between Ankara and Jerusalem.
Relations between Israel and Turkey crumbled after IDF soldiers raided the Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara
in May 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and 10 Turkish activists on board were killed attacking Israel Navy commandos.
Israel, which already had offered its apologies for the raid, agreed under the deal to pay $20 million to the bereaved and wounded in return for Turkey dropping outstanding legal claims.
Both countries are to appoint ambassadors under an agreement that is driven partly by the prospect of lucrative Mediterranean gas deals.
Herb Keinon and Reuters contributed to this report.