Colombia's President Gustavo Petro on Monday compared Israel's targeting of Gaza in retaliation for deadly attacks by militant group Hamas to the Nazi persecution of Jews.
Replying to a statement by Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant announcing a "complete siege" of Gaza in a fight against "animals," Petro said: "This is what the Nazis said of the Jews."
Writing on X, formerly Twitter, the Colombian president added that "democratic peoples cannot allow Nazism to re-establish itself in international politics."
He said Gallant's wording amounted to "hate speech" which, if allowed to continue, "will only bring a holocaust."
In a video message, Gallant announced Israel was "putting a complete siege" on the Gaza Strip and its 2.3 million people, which he said meant "no electricity, no food, no water, no gas."
"We are fighting animals and are acting accordingly," he said.
Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip over the past three days after Hamas militants surged into southern Israeli towns in a surprise attack that has left hundreds dead. Dozens were taken hostage – two of them believed to be Colombians.
Petro has published dozens of social media comments on the events since Saturday, provoking an acerbic exchange with Israel's Ambassador to Bogotá, Gali Dagan, who urged Colombia to condemn a "terrorist attack against innocent civilians."
In his response, Petro said: "terrorism is to kill innocent children, whether it be in Colombia or in Palestine," as he urged the two sides to negotiate for peace.
Dagan then invited Petro to visit the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem and the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, which the president retorted Monday he saw being "copied in Gaza."
"No democrat in the world can accept Gaza being turned into a concentration camp," Petro added.
On Saturday, Colombia's Foreign Ministry issued a statement to "vehemently condemn the terrorism and attacks against civilians that have occurred in Israel" and expressing solidarity with the victims.
The link to that statement has since been disabled, with a new statement of condemnation not making any mention of "terrorism."