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Gaza: Israel, Brazil’s diplomatic row worsens

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Israel says it is summoning the Brazilian ambassador to the country over what it says were “shameful and serious” remarks by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Speaking Sunday night in Addis Ababa at the African Union summit, Lula had called the Gaza Strip bombardment a “genocide.”

“What is happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people has no parallel in history. Indeed, it occurred when Hitler decided to kill the Jews,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on X that Lula was “trivializing” the Holocaust and “trying to harm the Jewish people and Israel’s right to defend itself,” saying that “comparing Israel to the Nazi Holocaust and Hitler is crossing a red line.”

“Israel fights for its defense and securing its future until complete victory and it does so while upholding international law,” he added. Israel has said its goal is to completely eliminate Hamas after they attacked Israel on October 7.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz also posted on X saying, “No one will harm Israel’s right to defend itself. I have ordered the people of my office to summon the Brazilian ambassador for a reprimand call tomorrow.”

Brazil’s President has repeatedly criticised Israel over its campaign in Gaza.

His latest comments come after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to press ahead with an offensive in Rafah – the southern-most Gazan city where some 1.5 million people have fled – in the face of increasing international pressure.

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

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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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