Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro Photo by AP
Text size

Israel denounced comments on Monday by former Cuban president Fidel Castro, who compared the Israeli treatment of Palestinians to the Nazi extermination of Jews, an example of heated rhetoric at a United Nations body's debate.

Castro's remarks were issued by Cuba's diplomatic mission in Geneva amid debate in the 47-nation United Nations Human Rights Council on Israeli action in the Palestinian territories.

"The hatred felt by the state of Israel against the Palestinians is such that they would not hesitate to send the one and a half million men, women and children of that country to the crematoria where millions of Jews of all ages were exterminated by the Nazis," the ex-Cuban leader said.

"It would seem that the Fuehrer's [Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's] swastika is today Israel's banner," the 83-year-old Castro declared in the latest of a series of articles dubbed
"reflections" in the communist-ruled island's media.

His remarks were not cited in the Council itself, but diplomats said Cuba had sent the comment to other foreign missions in Geneva as well as to journalists.

"With these outrageous comments, Fidel Castro shames his old-time companions and the ideals he always pretended to serve. Che Guevara must be spinning in his grave," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said in Jerusalem.

Israel has long lamented its treatment by the Human Rights Council, which it believes is biased against it. Cuba is a member of the council's bloc of developing countries, which shields its members and friends outside the body like Iran and Sri Lanka from criticism, but regularly condemns Israel.

Fidel Castro stepped down in 2008, following a long illness after nearly 50 years as his country's number one leader and handed over power to his younger brother Raul, now 79. Since then his "reflections" have kept him in the public spotlight.

On June 2 the Geneva-based Council condemned as outrageous Israel's interception of a ship flotilla taking aid to blockaded Gaza and the death of nine activists on board one vessel, voting to set up an independent fact-finding mission into the affair.

Israel has set up its own probe with foreign experts and rejected a separate U.N. investigation.