Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded that Israel stop its attacks against Gaza. Earlier, Israel announced the expansion of its ground incursion into the Palestinian enclave.
In a message published on X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday, Erdogan claimed that Israeli bombardments target civilians and only deepen the humanitarian crisis. “Israel must immediately get out of this state of madness and stop its attacks,” the Turkish president said. He also called on Palestine supporters to join him for a rally in Istanbul, to “shout that we stand with the Palestinian people against Israeli oppression.”
On Friday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced that it is “expanding ground operations” against Hamas in Gaza, while the air force intensified its aerial bombardment. Later, the largest telecommunications provider in Gaza, Paltel, announced the “complete severance of all communications and Internet services” due to massive airstrikes.
Later, multiple media outlets shared a message from Hamas, which claimed that it had managed to stop an attempted ground operation, adding that Israel’s military sustained heavy losses. However, according to the IDF, no soldiers were hurt in the expanded ground operation in Gaza. “Infantry, armored, engineering and artillery forces [are] participating in the activity, accompanied by heavy [air] fire,” the IDF spokesman told the Times of Israel, adding that “the forces are still on the ground and continue the fighting.”
Three weeks ago, Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing over 1,400 people and taking scores of hostages. Israel responded with a massive wave of airstrikes on Gaza, which claimed over 7,000 lives.
Israel vowed to “obliterate” the Palestinian militant group and warned about an upcoming incursion into Gaza. However, according to a New York Times report published earlier this week, the ground operation became a point of contention between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the military. According to the NYT, Netanyahu declined to approve an invasion plan that was finalized by the IDF. Sources told the outlet that the fate of the hostages was among the main concerns, as there was hope that negotiations mediated by Qatar might be successful.