Israeli attack in Rafah, Gaza
© Getty Images / Abed Zagout / Anadolu / Getty ImagesThe aftermath of an Israeli attack in Rafah, Gaza, February 9, 2024.
Israel's war in Gaza is comparable to the massacres committed by Nazi Germany during World War II, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday. This comes as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) ramp up their ground assault against Hamas militants in the southern part of the densely populated Palestinian enclave.

"In front of the eyes of the whole world, Israel's occupying forces brutally martyred 28,000 of our Palestinian brothers and sisters, most of them children and women," Erdogan said at the Islamic Cooperation Youth Forum. The IDF's strikes on schools, hospitals, mosques, and other civilian sites are "attacks reminiscent of the Nazis," he added.

A vocal critic of Israel, the Turkish leader has repeatedly compared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler and condemned the military operation in Gaza.

The bombing campaign and subsequent ground invasion has displaced around 85% of Gaza's population and left around 570,000 Palestinians facing starvation, according to the UN. Around 1.4 million of the besieged enclave's pre-war population of 2.2 million have fled to the southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt, after Israel called for civilians to evacuate to the south.

Israel declared war on Hamas in response to the October 7 terrorist attack, in which around 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 were taken hostage. Dozens of hostages have since been released as part of a prisoner swap during a weeklong ceasefire in November.

Netanyahu's office announced on Friday that the IDF will strike into Rafah to eliminate Hamas' "intense activity" in the city. The Israeli military and officials have said they are doing everything they can to minimize the civilian death toll. The Jewish state's diplomats have accused Hamas of using schools, hospitals, and other sites as cover for rocket attacks and have told the UN that the militants are using civilians as human shields.

Last month, the Hague-based International Court of Justice ruled that Israel must "take all measures within its power" to prevent a genocide in Gaza. Netanyahu rejected the ruling as "not only false, but outrageous."