Israel incensed after Brazil’s Lula likens Gaza war to Holocaust

Israel accused Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of trivialising the Holocaust and causing offence to the Jewish people on Sunday after he likened the Israeli war against Hamas militants in Gaza to the Nazi genocide during World War Two.

“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,” Lula told reporters during the 37th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said it would summon the Brazilian ambassador for a reprimand over the remarks, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described 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.

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Brazil’s presidential palace and the foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a statement, the Brazilian Israelite Confederation said Lula’s remarks were a “perverse distortion of reality” and “offend the memory of Holocaust victims and their descendants” and accused his government of an “extreme and unbalanced” stance on the conflict.

Earlier on Sunday, Lula also condemned the suspension of humanitarian aid to the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), urging an investigation into errors without cutting off funding to help those affected by what he called a “genocide.”

“It’s not a war between soldiers and soldiers, it’s a war between a highly prepared army and women and children,” he said.

UNRWA is facing a financial strain following Israel’s assertion that 12 out of its 13,000 staff members in Gaza were implicated in Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel.

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