Brazil President Withdraws His Country’s Ambassador to Israel after Criticizing War in Gaza

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva gestures as he attends a meeting on the National Commitment to Childhood Literacy, in Brasilia, Brazil, 28 May 2024. (EPA)
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva gestures as he attends a meeting on the National Commitment to Childhood Literacy, in Brasilia, Brazil, 28 May 2024. (EPA)
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Brazil President Withdraws His Country’s Ambassador to Israel after Criticizing War in Gaza

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva gestures as he attends a meeting on the National Commitment to Childhood Literacy, in Brasilia, Brazil, 28 May 2024. (EPA)
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva gestures as he attends a meeting on the National Commitment to Childhood Literacy, in Brasilia, Brazil, 28 May 2024. (EPA)

Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva withdrew his ambassador to Israel on Wednesday after months of tensions between the two countries over the war in Gaza, the latest repercussion from a South American nation over Israel's military campaign in the Palestinian territory.

The move was announced in Brazil’s official gazette.

Israel’s foreign ministry said no official message has yet been received from the Brazilian government on the matter. However, following the media reports, the Brazilian chargé d’affaires was summoned to appear at the ministry on Thursday for a meeting.

Lula has been a frequent critic of Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which he compared to the Holocaust earlier this year. That led Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz to summon the Brazilian ambassador to the national Holocaust museum in Jerusalem for a public reprimand.

At the time, Lula called Brazil’s Ambassador Frederico Meyer home. Wednesday’s action represented an escalation — a diplomatic downgrade, with the Brazilian Embassy in Israel still there but without an ambassador in the post.

According to a person at Brazil’s foreign ministry, the official removal comes was in response to Meyer's humiliation by Israel's top diplomat. The person, who has knowledge of the situation, spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

Meyer has been transferred to Geneva and will join Brazil's permanent mission to the United Nations and other international organizations.

The war in Gaza, now in its eighth month, began when the Palestinian Hamas group burst into southern Israel in a surprise attack on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 civilians and taking around 250 hostage.

Israel’s offensive in response to that attack has killed at least 36,096 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and civilians in its count. Israel says it has killed 13,000 militants.

In February, Brazil's Lula said that “what is happening in the Gaza Strip and to the Palestinian people hasn’t been seen in any other moment in history. Actually, it did when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.”

Israel says its war in Gaza is a defensive action triggered by Hamas' unprecedented assault and rejects any comparisons of its offensive to the Holocaust.

Earlier this month, Colombia broke diplomatic relations with Israel. Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro had previously suspended purchases of weapons from Israel and had also compared that country’s actions in Gaza to those of Nazi Germany.

Also in the region, Bolivia and Belize have also severed diplomatic relations with Israel over the Israel-Hamas war.



Fire at Hospital in Iran’s North Kills 9 Patients

The Iranian flag. (AFP)
The Iranian flag. (AFP)
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Fire at Hospital in Iran’s North Kills 9 Patients

The Iranian flag. (AFP)
The Iranian flag. (AFP)

A fire broke out at a hospital in Iran's north, killing nine patients, state media reported Tuesday.

The blaze started at 1:30 local time (2200GMT) at Qaem Hospital in the city of Rasht, some 330 kilometers (about 205 miles) northwest of the capital Tehran, state TV said, leaving six women and three men dead.

Chief of the city fire department, Shahram Momeni, said on state TV that an electric short circuit in the basement — which harbors the intensive care unit — malfunctioned, causing the fire.

Momeni said emergency workers rescued more than 140 people, patients and hospital staff, after being trapped because of the smoke, and that 120 of them were hospitalized in other medical facilities. He added that an investigation has been ordered.

A video posted online appeared to show smoke billowing from the hospital in the middle of the night.

Iranian media occasionally report on fires in hospitals and clinics that are mainly blamed on technical issues.

In 2020, an explosion from a gas leak in a medical clinic in northern Tehran killed 19 people.