Erdogan defends Hamas, says members are being treated in Turkish hospitals

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that more than 1,000 members of the militant Palestinian group Hamas were being treated in hospitals across Turkey as he reiterated his stance that it was a “resistance movement.”

A Turkish official later said Erdogan had “misspoke” and meant that Gazans more generally were being treated in Turkey.

“If you call Hamas a ‘terrorist organization,’ this would sadden us,” Erdogan said at a joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Ankara after Mitsotakis had referred to Hamas as such.

“We don’t deem Hamas a terrorist organization… More than 1,000 members of Hamas are under treatment in hospitals across our country,” Erdogan said.

A Turkish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, later said that Erdogan had meant to refer to Palestinians from Hamas-run Gaza in general, rather than Hamas members.

“President Erdogan misspoke, he meant 1,000 Gazans are under treatment, not Hamas members,” a Turkish official said.

Reuters could not immediately determine the background of those being treated in Turkey, but in November Ankara said it was evacuating dozens of wounded or sick Gazans, mostly cancer patients, and their companions following Israel’s offensive in


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