Israel condemns Brazil’s Lula likening Gaza war to Holocaust

Israel condemns Brazil’s Lula likening Gaza war to Holocaust

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Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has repeatedly criticised Israel over its campaign in Gaza

Israel has condemned Brazil’s president after he accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza, comparing its actions to the Holocaust.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said Israel’s military campaign was between a “highly prepared army and women and children”.

Israel’s foreign minister described Lula’s comments as antisemitic and said he was “persona non grata” in the country until he retracted them.

The main Jewish organisation in Brazil has also criticised Lula’s comments.

Speaking from an African Union summit in Ethiopia, Lula said: “What is happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people has no parallel in other historical moments. In fact, it did exist when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.

“It’s not a war of soldiers against soldiers. It’s a war between a highly prepared army and women and children.”

The veteran left-wing politician condemned Hamas after its gunmen killed at least 1,200 people and seized 253 hostages in a surprise attack on Israel on 7 October.

But he has since been vocally critical of Israel’s retaliatory military campaign, which the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says has killed more than 28,800 people, mainly women and children.

“We will not forget nor forgive,” Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in response.

“It is a serious antisemitic attack. In my name and the name of the citizens of Israel – tell President Lula that he is persona non grata in Israel until he takes it back.”

Mr Netanyahu earlier said Lula’s remarks amounted to “Holocaust trivialisation and an attempt to harm the Jewish people and the right of Israel to defend itself”.

“The comparison between Israel and the Holocaust of the Nazis and Hitler is crossing a red line,” he said in a statement.

Six million Jewish people were systematically murdered by Hitler’s Nazi regime during the 1930s and 1940s.

Israel summoned the Brazilian ambassador for a meeting on Monday.

The Brazilian Israelite Confederation – the country’s main Jewish organisation – said Lula’s remarks were a “perverse distortion of reality” which “offend the memory of Holocaust victims and their descendants”.

Lula endorsed South Africa’s case of genocide brought against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) last year.

Judges at the ICJ ruled in January that South Africa’s case against Israel could proceed.

The court instructed Israel to prevent its military from committing acts which might be considered genocidal, to prevent and punish incitement to genocide, and to enable humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.

But the court stopped short of calling on Israel to immediately halt its military operations in Gaza.

Brazil and South Africa are members of the Brics group of countries – an alliance of some of the world’s most important developing economies brought together to challenge wealthier Western nations.

On the ground in Gaza, the World Health Organization has said the territory’s Nasser hospital has ceased to function following an Israeli raid. The IDF said its operation was “precise and limited” and accused Hamas of “cynically using hospitals for terror”.

Meanwhile, efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas have been taking place in Cairo, though Qatar mediators said recent progress was “not very promising”.

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