Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has compared Iran to the Nazis, as the nation marked its Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The Prime Minister linked the genocide of 6 million Jews in World War II by the Nazis to Iran’s controversial nuclear program, citing past comments by the nation’s leaders on the destruction of Israel.
“As the Nazis strived to trample civilization and replace it with a 'master race' while destroying the Jewish people, so is Iran striving to take over the region and expand further with a declared goal of destroying the Jewish state,” Netanyahu said.
His comments came after the US, Iran and five other nations set a 30 June deadline to finalise a deal which would end western sanctions on the Islamic Republic in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear programme.
But Netanyahu has regarded the deal as a threat to his nation’s security.
“Instead of demanding Iran significantly dismantle its nuclear capabilities and conditioning lifting sanctions on it ending its aggressions, the world powers are retreating, leaving Iran with nuclear capabilities and even allowing it to expand them later on regardless to its actions in the Middle East and around the world,” Netanyahu said.
The annual memorial day is one of the most solemn on Israel's calendar, and sees the state come to a standstill for two minutes of remembrance.
Over the course of the day, Restaurants, cafes and places of entertainment shut down, while radio and TV programming is dedicated almost exclusively to documentaries about the Holocaust, and interviews with survivors.
Netanyahu spoke at a ceremony at Yad Vashem, during which six survivors lit six symbolic torches to commemorate the 6 million dead.
One of those was Shela Altaraz, the youngest of four children from Macedonia, whose whole family perished in the Holocaust.
During the war, she briefly found sanctuary in a Muslim village before falling ill with typhus and taken to a hospital. Eventually, she was put in a concentration camp where she was the only child. She would wake up screaming from nightmares but never uttered a word, earning the nickname “The Mute.”
“I'm angry at the world for not understanding and denying what happened and I am angry at myself for staying alive when so many others didn't,” she told The Associated Press. “I still live those days as if they were today but I'm proud that I live in a country where they cannot chase us anymore.”
Additional reporting by AP
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