Brazil’s president accuses Israel of committing genocide in Gaza, doubling down after earlier uproar


DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Brazil’s president alleged Saturday that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians, doubling down on harsh rhetoric after stirring controversy a week earlier by comparing Israel’s military offensive in Gaza to the Nazi Holocaust.

Israel has vehemently pushed back against genocide claims, saying its war is targeting the militant group Hamas, not the Palestinian people. It has held Hamas responsible for civilian deaths, arguing that the group operates from civilian areas.

The Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza said Saturday that the bodies of 92 Palestinians killed in Israeli bombardments were brought to hospitals over the past 24, raising the overall toll in nearly five months of war to 29,606. The total number of wounded rose to nearly 70,000.

The ministry’s death toll does not distinguish between civilians and combatants, but it has said two-thirds of those killed were children and women. Israel says its troops have killed more than 10,000 Hamas fighters, but has not provided details.


Israel declared war after the deadly Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel in which militants killed about 1,200 people and took some 250 hostages. More than 100 hostages remain in captivity in Gaza.

The steadily rising civilian death toll and a worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza have amplified calls for a cease-fire. Hunger and infectious diseases are spreading and some 80% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been displaced, with about 1.4 million crowded into the southern city of Rafah o n the border with Egypt.

Negotiators from the United States, Israel, Egypt and Qatar were meeting in Paris this weekend to try to reach a deal on pausing the fighting. Egypt and Qatar serve as mediators between Israel and Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to fight until “total victory,” but has dispatched a delegation to Paris to seek the release of hostages in exchange for a temporary truce. Negotiators face wide gaps and an unofficial deadline — the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan around March 10.


Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that he would not give up his “dignity for falsehood,” an apparent reference to calls for him to retract comments comparing Israel’s conduct in Gaza to the Nazi Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews perished during World War II.

“What the Israeli government is doing is not war, it is genocide,” he wrote Saturday. “Children and women are being murdered.”

In response to Lula’s initial comments, Israel declared him a persona non grata, summoned Brazil’s ambassador and demanded an apology. In retaliation, Lula recalled Brazil’s ambassador to Israel for consultations.

Last month, South Africa filed a complaint with the International Court of Justice, accusing Israel of genocide against Palestinians. The court issued a preliminary order in the landmark case two weeks later, ordering Israel to do all it can to prevent death, destruction and any acts of genocide in Gaza.

Israel, created in part as a refuge for survivors of the Holocaust, has accused South Africa of hypocrisy.


Meanwhile, Netanyahu and his right-wing government drew an angry response from the United States, its closest ally, over plans to build more than 3,300 new homes in settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Netanyahu’s fire-brand finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, has said the plans came in response to a Palestinian shooting attack earlier in the week that killed one Israeli and wounded five.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that he was “disappointed” to hear of the Israeli announcement. “It’s been long-standing U.S. policy under Republican and Democratic administrations alike that new settlements are counterproductive to reaching an enduring peace,” he said in Buenos Aires. “They’re also inconsistent with international law.

The Biden administration also restored a U.S. legal finding dating back nearly 50 years that Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are “illegitimate” under international law.

Blinken said the U.S. believes settlements are inconsistent with Israel’s obligations, reversing a determination made by his predecessor, Mike Pompeo.


Magdy reported from Cairo.


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