Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz exchanged blows over Israel’s attacks on Gaza on Monday and Tuesday, with Katz mentioning Cyprus in his retorts.

Erdogan had condemned Israel’s recent attacks on Rafah on Sunday night, including on a tent camp, calling them “a revelation of the ugly face of a terrorist state”, while also likening Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler.

“Netanyahu won’t be able to save himself from being lamented like [Slobodan] Milosevic, [Radovan] Karadzic, and [Adolf] Hitler, who he is imitating,” he said.

He added that Turkey will do “everything in its power to ensure those barbarians are brought to justice for the crimes they committed”.

Katz responded in kind with a post on X on Monday evening.

“The one who should be accused of genocide is the dictator Erdogan who murders his Kurdish citizens, who occupies northern Cyprus, and who commits crimes against humanity,” he said.

The Turkish foreign ministry refuted Katz’s statements on Tuesday morning in a further statement.

“Israeli Foreign Minister Katz’s disrespectful tone and baseless accusations against President Erdogan are a futile attempt to change the agenda about Israel’s crimes in Palestine,” the ministry said.

It added that Netanyahu’s government has “killed almost 40,000 Palestinians in the past six months” and “barbarically massacred dozens of innocent Palestinians” in its bombing of the tent camp on Sunday night.

“All those who are complicit in these crimes will be brought to justice before international courts,” they said, adding that Turkey will “continue to advocate for justice and Palestinians’ rights”.

The exchange of barbs between Erdogan and Katz came as the European Union’s foreign affairs council hardened its stance towards Israel during Monday’s meeting.

Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said the EU’s 27 foreign ministers had for the first time engaged in a “significant” discussion regarding sanctioning Israel.

“For the first time at an EU meeting, in a real way, I’ve seen significant discussion on sanctions and ‘what if’”, he said, while conceding that there is “some distance” between the various positions of the 27 foreign ministers.

However, he said there is “a lot of concern” regarding Israel’s seeming refusal thus far to comply with an International Court of Justice ruling, which ordered the state to halt its assault on the city.