Divine Retribution? Turkish lawmaker threatens  Israel, immediately has heart attack

Divine Retribution? Turkish lawmaker threatens  Israel, immediately has heart attack

Hasan Bitmez, a 53-year-old parliamentarian representing the Islamist Saadet (Felicity) Party, delivered an address at the General Assembly of the Turkish parliament on Tuesday accusing Israel of  ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Palestinians. He concluded by threatening Israel.

“We can perhaps hide from our conscience but not from history… Israel will not escape the wrath of Allah,” he said about Israel’s war against Hamas. “You will not escape the wrath of Allah,” Bitmez said, adding  “I salute you all.” 

He then collapsed at the podium. MP Dr. Turhan Çömez began giving him CPR on the floor of the Assembly before Bitmez was carried to an ambulance on a stretcher. According to Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, Bitmez was hospitalized and his condition was listed as “extremely critical and serious.”

Turkey has a mixed history of relations with Israel, swinging from periods of warm cooperation to periods of outright enmity. Although it had voted against the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, in 1949, Turkey became the first Muslim-majority country to recognize Israel. In 1967, Turkey joined the Arab condemnation of Israel after the Six-Day War and called for Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied territories but abstained from voting in favor of a clause referring to Israel as an “aggressor state.” The Turkish mission in Tel-Aviv was upgraded back to the level of “Legation” in July 1963 and further upgraded to the level of “Embassy” as of January 1980. A Turkish Ambassador presented his credentials to President Chaim Herzog, in 1992. Three years after his election in 2002, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Israel, signaling the beginning of a period of cooperation. 

This ended abruptly in 2010 when a flotilla of six ships carrying 663 people from 37 nations challenged the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Nine activists (eight Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American with dual citizenship) were killed and several more wounded by IDF troops aboard the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish vessel. Turkey downgraded diplomatic ties with Israel and suspended military cooperation after the UN released its report of the Mavi Marmara raid.

In December 2015, Turkey and Israel began talks to restore diplomatic ties and a reconciliation agreement was announced in June 2016.  Full diplomatic ties were restored in August 2022 

Despite the agreement, Erdogan has engaged in fiery anti-Israel rhetoric since the beginning of the war against Hamas.

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