By Haaretz Service
The Foreign Ministry on Monday hit back at Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the latter's remarks that Israel was endangering world peace by using exaggerated force against the Palestinians, breaching Lebanon's air space and waters and for not revealing the details of its nuclear program.
"Israel is careful to respect Turkey and seeks continued proper ties between the countries, but we expect reciprocity," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, calling Erdogan's remarks an "unbridled tongue-lashing".
"The State of Israel has the full right to protect its citizens from the missiles and terror of Hamas and Hezbollah, and the Turks are the last who can preach morality to the State of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces."
At a press conference with visiting Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Erdogan also called on the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to pressure Israel over its nuclear program in the same way that the international community has been dealing with Iran.
"Israel never denied that it has nuclear weapons," said Erdogan. "In fact, it has admitted to such."
"Those who are cautioning Iran must also caution Israel," Erdogan declared. "If we fail to display a fair attitude in this region, the problems will hit not only the region, but will spread elsewhere as well. The unrest of the Middle East is the unrest of the world."
Until recently, Turkey had been a solid ally of Israel's from the Muslim world. However, Ankara has taken a stance against Israel over last year's war in the Gaza Strip, leading to a deterioration of ties.
"Is the Israeli government in favor of peace or not?" Erdogan said. "Gaza was bombed again yesterday. Why?... There were no rocket attacks."
Erdogan was referring to an Israel Air Force strike Sunday on a rocket-launching ground in central Gaza, where three Islamic Jihad militants posing to fire at Israel were killed. Approximately four mortar shells were also fired from Gaza toward the western Negev on Sunday.
"As Turkey, we can never remain silent in the face of Israel's attitude... They have disproportional capabilities and power and they use them," Erdogan said.
"They do not abide by UN resolutions," he added. They say they will do what they like. We can in no way approve of such an attitude."
During the press conference, Erdogan also declared that Ankara stood behind Beirut's efforts to join the United Nations Security Council.
Hariri termed Israel as an enemy of Lebanon and a danger to its stability.
The meeting between Erdogan and Hariri came after Lebanese army anti-aircraft guns on Monday fired on Israeli fighter jets violating Lebanese airspace in southern Lebanon, a Lebanese army source said.
"The army's anti-aircraft guns fired at four enemy Israeli planes that were overflying the Marjayoun area in southern Lebanon," the source who requested anonymity said.
"In the past two days the Israeli overflights over Lebanon have intensified, and Lebanon have advised the United Nation about the repeated and increased violations," said the source.
Israel argues that the overflights are necessary, despite their being in violation of UN Resolution 1701 that ended a devastating war in 2006 between Israel and the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.
According to Israel, the overflights into areas near its border are to monitor what it describes as massive arms smuggling by Hezbollah, which is also a violation of the UN resolution.
Lebanon however is insisting that the UN stop the Israeli overflights.
Israel summons Turkey's envoy over controversial TV show
Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on Monday summoned the Turkish ambassador in Israel for clarification regarding a recent television drama depicting actors dressed as Shin Bet officers who kidnap babies.
Just three months ago, a similar diplomatic instance occurred between the two countries after Turkey aired the controversial television drama Ayrilik ("Separation") which featured actors dressed as Israeli soldiers killing Palestinian children.
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