Pro-Palestinian demonstrators set fire to an effigy of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as they protest against Israel's military action in Gaza, outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, early July 19, 2014..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Foreign Ministry on Friday warned Israeli nationals not to visit Turkey due to the current political climate regarding Israel's offensive in Gaza.
The ministry's official Facebook page said non-vital visits to the country should be avoided and safety precautions must be taken.
Israel said on Friday it was reducing its diplomatic presence in Turkey after protesters angered by its ground offensive into Gaza pelted its consulate in Istanbul with stones and draped Palestinian flags on the ambassador's residence in Ankara.
The Foreign Ministry accused Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan
of "incitement" and said it was ordering the return of diplomats' families and trimming staffing to a minimum.
"Israel strongly protests the flagrant violation of diplomatic rules by the Turkish authorities and security forces and holds the Turkish government fully responsible for the safety of the Israeli representatives," the Foreign Ministry said on its website.
Erdogan accused the Jewish state on Wednesday of terrorizing the region and likened an Israeli MP and member of the governing coalition to Hitler. On Friday, he said there would be no improvement in relations between the two countries while he or his administration remained in charge.
"(Israel) has always been oppressive, and continues to oppress. Hence, as Turkey, I cannot think of positive developments with Israel as long as I hold this duty," Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul.
He also criticized the West and the Muslim world for what he said was their silence in the face of "inhumane attacks".
"Westerners may say I am stirring up tensions, but I have the mission of winning the consent of people and God."
In Washington, a spokeswoman for the US State Department called Erdogan's remarks about Israel "offensive and wrong."
"This kind of provocative rhetoric is unhelpful and distracts from urgent efforts to bring about a cease-fire," Jen Psaki told a regular news briefing.
"What we're continuing to convey to any country in the region, including Turkey, is that the most productive role they can play is supporting the Egyptian cease-fire proposal," she said, referring to a Gaza truce plan put forward by Cairo.
While noting that Turkey was a member of the US-led NATO military alliance, Psaki said Washington would not hesitate to air its concerns "about comments made or actions taken, even when it is a NATO ally".