ISTANBUL – Turkey on Monday condemned what it said were "disproportionate" Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, insisting that a recent reconciliation pact doesn't preclude it from speaking out against the country's actions.
Israel responded hours later, calling Turkey's condemnation "baseless" and vowing to defend its civilians.
The Israeli military carried out a series of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip late Sunday, targeting Hamas positions in response to a Palestinian rocket attack that hit an Israeli border town.
"The fact that our ties with Israel have normalized does not mean that we will remain silent in the face of such attacks that target the Palestinian people," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"On the contrary, we will continue to (defend) the Palestinian cause," it said, calling Israel's actions "against international laws and especially against consciences."
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon responded: "The normalization of our relations with Turkey does not mean that we will remain silent in the face of its baseless condemnations."
"Israel will continue to defend its civilians from all rocket fire on our territory, in accordance with international law and our conscience. Turkey should think twice before criticizing the military actions of others," he said.
Turkey and Israel reached an agreement last month to end a six-year rift caused by an Israeli naval raid on a Turkish aid ship trying to breach Israel's blockade of Gaza. Ten Turkish activists were killed in the raid.
Turkey's parliament last week approved the reconciliation agreement under which Israel will pay $20 million in compensation to the victims within 25 days. Under the agreement, individual Israeli nationals also wouldn't be held criminally or financially liable for the incident.
Earlier, police detained five people who tried to break into the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul to protest the Gaza airstrikes.
State-run Anadolu Agency said the five entered a business center housing the consulate early Monday and were detained by police who were called to the scene.
Security around the building was increased, the agency reported.