Peres to Turkish FM: Israel Targets Only Gaza Terrorists, Not Civilians

In response to Turkish PM's criticism of Israeli actions in Gaza, Peres likens Israel's war on terror to Turkey's efforts.

President Shimon Peres on Saturday responded to Turkish criticism of Israel's actions in Gaza, saying "Israel only harms terrorists and we have no desire to hurt the residents of Gaza."

"Israel is waging a war against terror which is similar to that which Turkey wages against the terror within its own borders," Peres added.

Peres met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Saturday and the two discussed harsh remarks against Israel made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this week.

Relations between Israel and Turkey became very tense after Erdogan claimed that no Israelis have been killed by Palestinian Qassam missiles, while every Israel Defense Forces attack in the Gaza Strip kills dozens of Palestinians.

Senior Foreign Ministry officials on Wednesday issued a protest to Turkey's ambassador to Israel, Namik Tan, and requested clarifications of Erdogan's remarks.

"The Palestinian territories are like an open-air prison, they are under siege from Israel," he said in a televised speech to lawmakers Wednesday.

He blamed Israel for the situation in Gaza: "The people of Gaza are facing a humanitarian tragedy," he said. "We cannot accept a practice that amounts to punishing nearly 2 million innocent people due to some rocket attacks?When we ask [our Israeli colleagues] how many Israeli citizens died as a result of these rocket attacks, we do not get an answer."