Israeli PM slams 'outrageous' claim by Turkey of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian deaths

Erdogan tells CNN that while the number of Israelis killed in the conflict was up to 200,¿hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were killed¿.

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JERUSALEM // Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, yesterday hit out at the "outrageous" remarks by the Turkish prime minister, who claimed Israel had killed "hundreds of thousands" of Palestinians.

In an interview with the English-language Jerusalem Post, excerpts of which were published yesterday, Mr Netanyahu expressed anger over comments made by Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an weekend interview with the US cable network CNN.

In the interview, footage of which is available on CNN's website, Mr Erdogan said there were no accurate statistics about the number of Israelis killed in the conflict, suggesting up to "200", while he said "hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were killed".

He also accused Israel of using the genocide of the Nazi Holocaust to perpetuate the idea that "they are the victims all the time".

"Both allegations are false," Mr Netanyahu told the paper, with his spokesman Mark Regev confirming the quotes as accurate to AFP.

"These are outrageous charges against Israel that have nothing to do with the facts."

Mr Netanyahu said thousands of Israelis had been killed in Palestinian violence and that Israel had certainly not taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

"We don't use the Holocaust. The Holocaust was the worst crime in history perpetuated against our people," said Mr Netanyahu.

"To hear this allegation at the beginning of the 21st century, just 60 years after Holocaust, is outrageous," he told the paper on his return from the UN General Assembly in New York.

"In Israel we are used to telling the truth and the truth is that these allegations are completely false."

Israel and Turkey, once close allies, have been locked in an increasingly bitter dispute over an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla which left nine Turkish nationals dead in May 2010.

Earlier this month, Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador and froze military ties and defence trade deals. Ankara has also threatened to send warships to escort any Turkish vessels trying to reach Hamas-ruled Gaza.