Brazilian Prez unwanted in Israel after Holocaust comparisons.

International Relations

The Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, Israel Katz, declared this Monday, February 19, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva “persona non grata” for comparing the current war against Hamas in Gaza with the Holocaust.

“He is persona non grata in the State of Israel as long as he does not retract his statements and apologize,” said Katz, referring to the left-wing leader of the main Latin American power.

The Brazilian leader declared the day before that the conflict between Israel and the Islamist movement Hamas in Gaza was “not a war, but a genocide.”

From the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, where he participated as a guest at the annual summit of the African Union, Lula also compared Israel’s offensive with Adolf Hitler’s campaign to exterminate the Jews, generating strong rejection in Israel.

“What is happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people has not happened at any other time in history. In reality, it has happened: when Hitler decided to kill the Jews,” said Lula, who returned to power in January 2023, succeeding the far-right Jair Bolsonaro.

In response, the Israeli government summoned Brazil’s ambassador to Israel and invited him to meet with the head of diplomacy at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem.

Lula’s statements “are a shame and a serious anti-Semitic attack against the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” Katz declared during a visit to the memorial, which AFP attended.

Along the same lines, government spokesman Eylon Levy denounced during a press conference this Monday “the authors of a true genocide, the Hamas death squads, who burned entire families alive, incinerated them and reduced them to human ashes on October 7.”

“We will not tolerate leaders around the world trying to give Hamas political or legal cover,” he added.

‘Red line’

Israel launched an air and ground offensive against Hamas in Gaza on October 7, after the Islamist group’s attack on its territory, which left at least 1,160 dead, according to an AFP report based on Israeli figures.

The militants also captured about 250 people, of whom 130 remain in Gaza, including 30 who were reported dead, according to Israel.

The Israeli military response has left more than 29,000 dead in Gaza, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, ruled by Hamas since 2007.

Lula, 78, described the Hamas attack on October 7 as an “act of terrorism” in November. But he also considered the Israeli response “disproportionate.”

“It is not a war of soldiers against soldiers,” he declared on Sunday. “It is a war between a very prepared army and women and children,” she said.

The statements by Lula, an important representative of the countries of the global south and who holds the rotating presidency of the G20, are the most forceful issued so far on the conflict.

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