Brazil's Lula accuses Israel of genocide against Palestinian civilians in Gaza

Brazil's Lula accuses Israel of genocide against Palestinian civilians in Gaza
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has condemned Israel's conduct in Gaza and compared it to Hitler's extermination campaign against Jews
2 min read
18 February, 2024
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during an Arab League meeting on February 15 [Getty]

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has accused Israel on Sunday of committing genocide against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and compared its actions to Adolf Hitler's campaign to exterminate Jews.

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

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

"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."

They were among the strongest comments yet on the conflict from Lula, a prominent voice for the global south whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the G20.

The 78-year-old leader condemned Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel as a "terrorist" act the day it happened.

He has also grown vocally critical of Israel's relentless military campaign.

Live Story

Israel has since responded to Lula's claims.

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. 

Lula also criticised 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 on Saturday on the sidelines of the summit, said Brazil will increase its contribution to the agency, and urged other countries to do the same.

"When I see the rich world announce that it's halting its contributions to humanitarian aid for the Palestinians, I just imagine how big these people's political awareness is and how big the spirit of solidarity in their hearts is," Lula said.

"We need to stop being small when we need to be big."

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

Israel's deadly assault on Gaza has killed at least 28,985 people, mostly women and children, according to the territory's health ministry.