Brazil’s Lula says Israel response ‘as grave’ as Hamas attack

Brazil’s president on Monday accused Israel of “killing innocent people without any criteria” in the Gaza Strip, deeming its actions there “as grave” as the October 7 attacks by Palestinian militant group Hamas.

“After the act of terrorism provoked by Hamas, the consequences, the solution of the state of Israel, is as grave as that of Hamas,” said Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at a ceremony in Brasilia welcoming Brazilians and their families who had been evacuated from Gaza.

“They are killing innocent people without any criteria,” said Lula.

The leader of Latin America’s largest country also accused Israel of “dropping bombs where there are children, hospitals, on the pretext that a terrorist is there.”

“They are not killing soldiers, they are killing children,” he told journalists at the Brasilia Air Base, claiming the number of women and children killed or missing was unheard of.

Lula, 78, who hugged and kissed the returnees on the tarmac, said he had “never” seen “such brutal and inhuman violence against innocent people”.

“This is inexplicable. First you have to save the women and children, then you fight with whomever you want,” Lula said.

Representatives of Brazil’s Jewish community denounced these remarks as “erroneous”, “unfair” and “dangerous”, adding that they “put Israel and Hamas on the same level”.

They defended the “visible and proven” efforts of the Israeli authorities “to save Palestinian civilians”.

“Our community expects balance from our authorities,” added the Israeli Confederation of Brazil, which claims to represent some 120,000 Brazilian Jews, the second largest community in the region, in a statement.

On October 7, Hamas fighters attacked Israel, killing around 1,200 people, most of them civilians, according to Israeli officials.

The Israeli army estimates that some 240 people have also been taken hostage by the group.

Since then, Israel has pounded Gaza relentlessly, killing some 11,240 people, mostly civilians, including 4,630 children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry there.

Israel denies deliberately targeting hospitals. It accuses Hamas of using these facilities, or the tunnels beneath them, as hideouts, which the Islamist militant group denies.

Lula’s comments came as he welcomed to Brasilia 22 Brazilians and 10 members of their families who left Gaza on Sunday via the land border with Egypt, after more than a month of waiting in the conflict zone.

He hailed the arrival of the returnees, which he said was “the culmination of a very serious work by many people”.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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