Brazil’s Lula compares Israel’s war on Gaza with the Holocaust

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Buildings stand in ruin amid Israel's war on Gaza [UNRWA/Handout via Reuters]

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has accused Israel of committing “genocide” against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and compared its war on Gaza with Adolf Hitler’s campaign to exterminate Jewish people.

“What’s happening in the Gaza Strip isn’t a war, it’s a genocide,” Lula told reporters in Addis Ababa where he was attending an African Union summit on Sunday.

“It’s not a war of soldiers against soldiers. It’s a war between a highly prepared army and women and children,” added the Brazilian president.

“What’s happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people hasn’t happened at any other moment in history. Actually, it has happened: when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.”

Led by Hitler, the Nazis systematically killed six million Jews during World War II.

This handout picture released by the Brazilian Presidency shows Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaking during a press conference in Addis Ababa on February 18, 2024. (Photo by Ricardo STUCKERT / Brazilian Presidency / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / BRAZILIAN PRESIDENCY / RICARDO STUCKERT" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / BRAZILIAN PRESIDENCY / RICARDO STUCKERT" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS /
Lula said Israel’s war on Gaza was a ‘genocide’ [Ricardo Stuckert/Brazilian Presidency via AFP]

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said he would summon Brazil’s ambassador for a reprimand over the remarks.

“No one will compromise Israel’s right to defend itself,” Katz said on X, adding that the envoy would be summoned on Monday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the comments as “disgraceful and grave”.

“This is a trivialisation of the Holocaust and an attempt to attack the Jewish people and the right of Israel to self-defence. Drawing comparisons between Israel and the Nazis and Hitler is to cross a red line,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

Lula, 78, had condemned the Hamas-led October 7 attack on southern Israel as a “terrorist” act the day it happened.

But he has since grown vocally critical of Israel’s retaliatory military campaign in Gaza.

At least 1,139 people were killed in the Hamas-led attack on southern Israel, mostly civilians, according to an Al Jazeera tally of Israeli official figures.

Hamas members also took about 250 people captive, 130 of whom are still in Gaza, including 30 who are presumed dead, according to Israeli authorities.

Israel’s retaliatory assault on Gaza has killed at least 28,858 people, mostly women and children, according to Palestinian authorities.

Lula criticised Western countries’ recent decisions to halt aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, after Israel accused some of its employees of involvement in the Hamas-led attack.

Lula, who met with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh Saturday on the sidelines of the summit, has said Brazil will increase its own contribution to the agency and urged other countries to do the same.

“When I see the rich world announce that it’s halting its contributions to humanitarian aid for the Palestinians, I just imagine how big these people’s political awareness is and how big the spirit of solidarity in their hearts is,” Lula said.

“We need to stop being small when we need to be big.”

He reiterated his call for a two-state solution to the conflict, with Palestine “definitively recognised as a full and sovereign state”.

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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