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Brazil's Lula accuses Israel of 'genocide' in Gaza

By AFP - Feb 19,2024 - Last updated at Feb 19,2024

ADDIS ABABA — Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva 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 G-20.

The 78-year-old leader condemned Hamas' October 7 sudden attack on Israel the day it happened.

But he has since grown vocally critical of Israel’s retaliatory military campaign.

Lula 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 surprise attack.

Lula, who met with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh on Saturday on the sidelines of the summit, has said Brazil will increase its own 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”.

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