ISTANBUL: Turkeys President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday blasted Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu as a tyrant who massacred Palestinian children.

Erdogan was responding to comments from Netanyahu earlier on Wednesday slamming the Turkish leader as a dictator and a joke, after a day of tit-for-tat exchanges between officials in both countries.

Turkey and Israel have tense relations as Erdogan is a vocal critic of Israeli policies.

Erdogan also refered to clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians in Jerusalem, denouncing Israeli security forces for entering a holy place.

The latest exchange came after Netanyahu had called Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people only, not all its citizens. That prompted Turkey on Tuesday to accuse the Israeli leader of blatant racism.

Netanyahu struck back in a statement from his office early Wednesday.

Turkeys dictator Erdogan attacks Israels democracy while Turkish journalists and judges fill his prisons, it read. What a joke!

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin was swift to respond on Twitter, accusing Netanyahu of attacking Erdogan for exposing him after the Israeli premiers racist remarks towards Arabs and Muslims.

The two countries in 2016 ended a six-year rift triggered by the Israeli storming of a Gaza-bound ship that left 10 Turkish activists dead and led to a downgrading of diplomatic ties.

Netanyahu has been demonising Israeli Arabs, who make up some 17.5 percent of the population, in a bid to boost right-wing turnout for April polls.

After the polls, Netanyahu will also face a hearing to defend himself against corruption allegations which have dogged his campaign.