Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey and Israel on Tuesday ordered envoys to leave in tit-for-tat moves and exchanged bitter accusations as a row over the killing of dozens of Palestinians by Israeli forces.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit back at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Twitter by calling Israel an “apartheid state” as Ankara ordered the Israeli ambassador to leave.

Ambassador Eitan Naeh was summoned to the Turkish foreign ministry and told to “return to his country for a period of time”, said a foreign ministry official, who asked not to be named.

Israel responded by ordering the Turkish consul in Jerusalem to leave for an unspecified period of time, its foreign ministry said.

Naeh had been in his post only since December 2016 after a reconciliation deal earlier that year ended a dispute over the May 2010 deadly storming of a Turkish ship by Israeli commandos that saw ties downgraded for more than half a decade.

That deal was strongly backed by the United States, which was keen to see Israel make up with one of its very few key Muslim partners.

Turkey had already called back its ambassador to Tel Aviv — as well as the envoy to Washington — for consultations over Monday’s killing of 60 Palestinians by Israeli forces on the Gaza border,

Ankara has reacted with fury to the killings, which came on the same day as the US formally moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.