Brazil minister angered by Israeli statement on foiled Hezbollah attack


By Gabriel Stargardter

RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Brazilian Justice Minister Flavio Dino delivered a stiff rebuke to Israel on Thursday after its Mossad spy agency said it had helped foil an attack by the Islamist militant group Hezbollah on Jewish targets in Brazil.

Dino was responding to a highly unusual statement published on Wednesday in which Israel's Mossad agency thanked Brazilian police and said that, "given the backdrop of the war in Gaza", Hezbollah was continuing to attack Israeli, Jewish and Western targets.

Earlier on Wednesday, Brazil's Federal Police arrested two unnamed people on terrorism charges, and carried out 11 search and seizure warrants on properties.

Without explicitly naming Israel, Dino said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that "Brazil is a sovereign country," and "no foreign force orders around the Brazilian Federal Police."

Dino said the investigations that resulted in Wednesday's operations "began BEFORE the outbreak of the ongoing tragedies on the international scene," and said the investigation had "nothing to do with international conflicts."

"We appreciate appropriate international cooperation, but we reject any foreign authority that deems to direct Brazilian police bodies, or use our investigations for the use of propaganda or its political interests," he wrote.

He did not explicitly deny any of the details in the Israeli statement, but seemed more angered by its timing, tone and the link it drew to the current war in Gaza.

Israel's government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Dino's comments may chill relations with the Israeli government as Brazil tries to negotiate a safe exit for around 30 Brazilians still stuck in Gaza.

They also come as a growing number of Latin American nations take a stronger line on Israel over its bombardment of Gaza in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas. Late last month, Bolivia severed diplomatic ties with Israel, while Colombia and Chile recalled their ambassadors.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has sought to balance criticism of Hamas' attacks with calls for a ceasefire.

Hezbollah, an Iran-backed group in Lebanon, could not immediately be reached for comment. Neither could the Iranian government.

(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter Additional reporting by Maytaal Angel; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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