Brazil president slams Israel's assault on Gaza: "It isn't a war, it's a genocide"

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva accused Israel Sunday of committing genocide against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and compared its actions to Adolf Hitler's campaign to exterminate Jews.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has accused Israel of genocide as he condemned the brutal assault on Gaza.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has accused Israel of genocide as he condemned the brutal assault on Gaza.  © REUTERS

In response, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the 78-year-old president's comments "shameful and grave" and said his government had called in Brazil's ambassador in protest.

Lula told reporters in Addis Ababa, where he was attending an African Union summit, that what was happening in the Gaza Strip "isn't a war, it's a genocide."

"It's not a war of soldiers against soldiers. It's a war between a highly prepared army and women and children," he added.

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"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."

Lula, a prominent voice for the global south whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the G20, previously condemned Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel as a "terrorist" act.

But he has since grown vocally critical of Israel's retaliatory military campaign.

Netanyahu called Lula's remarks "Holocaust trivialization and an attempt to harm the Jewish people and the right of Israel to defend itself."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responds to Lula's comments

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that comparisons between Israel and the Nazis was "crossing a red line."
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that comparisons between Israel and the Nazis was "crossing a red line."  © REUTERS

"The comparison between Israel to the Holocaust of the Nazis and Hitler is crossing a red line," he said in a statement. "Israel is fighting to defend itself and ensure its future until total victory, and it is doing that while upholding international law."

"I have decided with Foreign Minister [Israel] Katz to summon the Brazilian ambassador in Israel for an immediate reproach."

Katz wrote on X that the meeting would take place on Monday.

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Hamas's attack resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures. Militants also took about 250 people hostage, 130 of whom are still in Gaza, including 30 who are presumed dead, according to Israeli figures.

Israel's brutal assault on Gaza has killed at least 28,858 people, mostly women and children.

Lula criticized 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 October 7 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.

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

Cover photo: REUTERS

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