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Israeli raid on Freedom Flotilla shatters key Turkey-Israel ties

The raid on the Turkish-led Gaza Freedom Flotilla has dealt a harsh blow to Turkey-Israel relations. Ankara's sharp response is strongest signal yet that Turkey may abandon its bid to be regional mediator.

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Palestinians hold Turkish and Palestinian flags during a protest against the Israeli naval commando raid on a flotilla attempting to break the blockade on Gaza, in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, Tuesday.

Maya Hitij/AP

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One of the greatest diplomatic casualties of the Israeli raid on the Turkish-led Gaza freedom flotilla, which left at least nine dead and dozens injured, may be irreversible damage to Turkey-Israel relations.

Following the flotilla raid, Turkey summoned its ambassador to Israel back to Ankara. In remarks made in parliament on Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke in harsh terms that seemed to leave little room for an easy rapprochement with Israel.

"This bloody massacre by Israel on ships that were taking humanitarian aid to Gaza deserves every kind of curse. This attack is on international law, the conscience of humanity and world peace," he said.

IN PICTURES: The Gaza flotilla and the aftermath of the Israeli naval raid

"No one should test Turkey's patience," added Mr. Erdogan, who has grown increasingly critical of Israel since the start of the Gaza war in late 2008. "Turkey's hostility is as strong as its friendship is valuable."

Ankara’s harsh response to Israel’s action is the strongest signal yet that Turkey may be abandoning its efforts to become a regional mediator between Israel and its Muslim neighbors, favoring instead a more pointed foreign policy. The shift will allow it to capitalize on Muslim frustration with Israel, giving an added boost to its already rising profile in the Middle East.

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