Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da SilvaReuters

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Friday responded to a comment by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, criticizing the number of casualties in Gaza.

Da Silva had claimed that 12.3 million children were killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza.

Israel and Gaza have a total combined population of just 11 million.

"There should be a law that every person who wishes to become president must learn to count," Katz wrote on X, formerly Twitter, sharing a screenshot of a headline bearing da Silva's statement.

On Thursday, Israel's Army Radio reported that da Silva, speaking at a government conference on the rights of children and adolescents, claimed that "12.3 million children died in the Gaza Strip and in Israel because of the war."

Earlier this year, the Hamas-run Gaza "Health Ministry" claimed that the death toll in Gaza had risen above 30,000 - a number which does not differentiate between terrorists and civilians.

In February, Katz called Brazilian Ambassador Federico Mayer for a reprimand after da Silva compared Israel to the Nazis.

"The comparison between the just war that Israel is fighting against Hamas and the horrors perpetrated by Hitler and the Nazis is an embarrassment and disgrace and a serious antisemitic attack," he said.

Katz also said that da Silva would be a persona non grata in Israel: "We will not forgive and we will not forget: In my name and in the name of all citizens of Israel, tell President Lula that he is a persona non grata in Israel until he apologizes and retracts his statements."

The previous day, da Silva had compared the IDF actions in Gaza to Hitler’s actions against Jews in WW2, saying, "What is happening in the Gaza Strip is not war. This is genocide. It is not a war of soldiers against soldiers. It is a war between a trained military against women and children. What is happening in the Gaza Strip against the Palestinian people has not happened at almost any other time in history. In fact, it only happened once; when Hitler decided to kill the Jews."