Israel condemns the Brazilian president's comparison of the Gaza war to the Holocaust

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Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has repeatedly criticized Israel for its campaign in Gaza

Israel condemned the Brazilian president after he accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza, likening its actions to the Holocaust.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said that the Israeli military campaign involved “a highly prepared army, women and children.”

The Israeli Foreign Minister described Lula's comments as anti-Semitic and said he was “persona non grata” in the country to retract them.

Brazil's main Jewish organization also criticized Lula's statements.

Speaking from the 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 was there when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.”

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

The veteran leftist politician condemned Hamas after its gunmen killed at least 1,200 people and took 253 hostage in a surprise attack on Israel on October 7.

But he has since openly criticized Israel's retaliatory military campaign, which the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza says has killed more than 28,800 people, most of them women and children.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in response, “We will not forget and we will not forgive.”

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

Netanyahu said earlier that Lula's statements amounted to “a downplaying of the Holocaust and an attempt to harm the Jewish people and Israel's right to defend itself.”

He said in a statement, “Comparing Israel to the Holocaust and Hitler crosses a red line.”

Six million Jews were systematically murdered by Hitler's Nazi regime during the 1930s and 1940s.

Israel summoned the Brazilian ambassador to the meeting on Monday.

The Brazilian Israel Federation – the country's main Jewish organization – said Lula's comments were a “harmful distortion of reality” that “offends the memory of Holocaust victims and their descendants.”

Lula supported South Africa's genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice last year.

Last January, International Court of Justice judges ruled that South Africa's case against Israel could proceed.

The court ordered Israel to prevent its army from committing acts that could be considered genocide, prevent and punish incitement to genocide, and enable humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.

But the court stopped short of demanding that Israel immediately stop its military operations in Gaza.

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

On the ground in Gaza, the World Health Organization said that Nasser Hospital in the Strip stopped working after an Israeli raid. The Israeli army said its operation was “meticulous and limited” and accused Hamas of “cynically using hospitals for terrorism.”

Meanwhile, efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas are underway in Cairo, although Qatari mediators said the latest progress is “not very promising.”

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