Brazil's Rousseff condemns 'massacre' in Gaza

Brazilian president calls military offensive in Gaza a "massacre," but denies any break in diplomatic ties with Israel

Brazil's Rousseff condemns 'massacre' in Gaza

World Bulletin/News Desk

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has condemned Israel's military offensive in Gaza as a "massacre", joining international calls for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Speaking with journalists at a forum organized by the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper on Monday, Rousseff said calls for an end to the bloodshed made by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier in the day were "extremely welcome".

Rousseff said: "I think what is happening in Gaza is extremely dangerous; it is a massacre. It is not a genocide that is being waged, but a disproportionate act.

"It's a humanitarian issue. The area is so small and women and children are dying. We know that in a war like this, the ones who pay are the civilians."

The lives of at least 1,119 Palestinians and 53 Israelis have been lost in the bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas, which began on July 8.

Hamas has said it has killed 110 Israeli troops.

The comments made by the Brazilian leader appeared to clarify those made last week by her chief adviser on international affairs, Marco Aurélio Garcia, who said Israel's offensive was tantamount to a "genocide".

It is the first time the president has spoken on the subject since Brazil announced last Thursday that its ambassador in Tel Aviv, Henrique Sardinha Pinto, would be recalled - an act of protest in diplomatic terms.

Rousseff said the ambassador would return in due course and there was no break in diplomatic relations between the two countries, who continued to be "friends".

The announcement had threatened to spark a major diplomatic row between the states, particularly when Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor lambasted Brazil, calling it a "diplomatic dwarf" that was "politically irrelevant".

Brazil's response at the time sought to defuse the situation.

Rousseff said she "regretted" the spokesperson's choice of language, which had "produced a very bad climate" between the two nations.

The Brazilian president will join the leaders of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela in Caracas on Tuesday for an annual summit of the Mercosur South American economic bloc, according to the Agência Brasil news agency.

The leaders are expected to discuss the situation in Gaza and produce a joint declaration.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Temmuz 2014, 12:05

Muhammed Öylek

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