Israel’s Ambassador to Brazil Daniel Zohar Zonshine has been accused of meddling in local politics following his meeting with former President Jair Bolsonaro to watch a video of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, it was reported.
Workers’ Party Chairwoman Gleisi Hoffmann spoke on Thursday of a “spurious alliance” between the former head of state and the diplomat, which – in her words – “is even more repugnant because the safety and lives of Brazilian citizens” still waiting in the Gaza Strip to leave was at stake.
“Their manipulation of a conflict in which the actions of Brazilian diplomacy, guided by President [Luiz Inácio] Lula [da Silva] were directed from the beginning towards the construction of a peaceful solution, is totally condemnable,” Hoffman was quoted by O Globo as saying.
The ambassador has also been criticized by Justice Minister Flávio Dino for heralding the outcome of a Federal Police raid against members of the Lebanese Shiite militia group Hezbollah who were allegedly planning attacks in the South American country.
“Brazil is a sovereign country. Legal and police cooperation exists with countries of different ideological shades, based on international agreements” and “no representative of a foreign government can pretend to anticipate the outcome of an investigation carried out by the Federal Police,” said Dino.
Brazilian police arrested on Wednesday two people suspected of planning attacks against synagogues and Jewish institutions in Brazil who were allegedly contacted by Hezbollah, according to the confession of one of those arrested.
In this regard, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has been reported to have warned Brazilian authorities about such a threat, according to Agencia Brasil. The law enforcement operation led to two arrests and found evidence of Brazilians helping Hezbollah.
The FBI alerted Brazilian authorities on Nov. 1 that individuals with suspected links to the Islamic group Hezbollah were plotting terrorist attacks in Brazil, Agencia Brasil also said Thursday citing court sources.
In addition to the detentions, a Federal court in the State of Minas Gerais served eleven search and seizure warrants under Operation Trapiche, which is the result of probes carried out by the Federal Police Counter-Terrorism Division after the FBI sent a memorandum pointing out the imminent risk.
“The investigations carried out by the Federal Police, based on information supplied by the FBI, have detected signs of criminal activity by those investigated, as well as connections with the Islamic militant group Hezbollah. Under investigation is the possible recruitment of Brazilians for illicit activities, including terrorism,” court officials told Agência Brasil in a statement.
“In view of the situation and considering that all the requirements have been met, the 2nd Federal Criminal Court in Belo Horizonte has granted the measures requested by the police authority—which include temporary arrests as well as searches and seizures,” the note further read.
Hours after the Federal Police stated the operation aimed to “disrupt preparation for terrorism and gather evidence of the possible recruitment of Brazilians for extremist activities in the country,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office released a statement saying the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, had also helped with the Brazilian police effort.
“The security agencies in Brazil, along with Mossad and its partners in the Israeli security community and other international security and surveillance bodies, foiled an attack in Brazil by the terrorist organization Hezbollah,” the Israeli note mentions, accusing the native and naturalized Brazilians targeted by Operation Trapiche of being part of a terrorist cell that worked on behalf of Hezbollah to stage an assault on Israeli and Jewish targets in the South American country.
Dino described Wednesday’s police crackdown as a “hypothesis that the Federal Police are looking into” but underlined Thursday that “no representative of a foreign government can claim to predict the outcome of a still ongoing investigation conducted by the Federal Police.”