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Colombia severs ties with Israel for having a government ‘that is genocidal’ | News24


Colombian President Gustavo Petro said Wednesday his country will sever diplomatic ties with Israel, whose government he described as “genocidal” over its war in Gaza. (Raul Arboleda/AFP)

  • Colombia announced it will sever diplomatic ties with
    Israel.
  • Bogota described Israel’s actions in Gaza under Prime
    Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “genocidal”.
  • Colombian President Gustavo Petro made this announcement
    during a May Day rally.

President
Gustavo Petro said Wednesday Colombia will sever diplomatic ties with Israel,
whose government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he described as
“genocidal” in its war in Gaza.

“Tomorrow
(Thursday) diplomatic relations with the state of Israel will be severed… for
having a government, for having a president that is genocidal,” Petro, a
harsh critic of the devastating war against Hamas, told a May Day rally in
Bogota.

Netanyahu
is Israel’s head of government, while the country’s president – a role which is
largely ceremonial – is Isaac Herzog.

The war in
Gaza broke out after the unprecedented Hamas attack on southern Israel on 7
October. That assault resulted in the deaths of some 1 170 people, mostly
civilians, according to Israeli figures.

Hamas
militants also took about 250 hostages, 129 of whom remain in Gaza, including
34 Israel says are presumed dead.

Israel’s
retaliatory offensive has killed at least 34 568 people in Gaza, mostly women
and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

On
Wednesday, Petro told thousands of supporters that the world cannot accept
“genocide, the extermination of an entire people.”

“If
Palestine dies, humanity dies,” he said to loud applause from the crowd,
some of whom flew pro-Palestinian banners.

Israel
responded by describing Petro as “anti-Semitic and hateful,” saying
his stance amounted to handing a reward to Hamas.

“The
Colombian president has promised to reward Hamas murderers and rapists – and
today he delivered,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on X.

ROLLING COVERAGE | DEVELOPING: Israel state auditor calls on Netanyahu to cooperate in 7 October probe

“History
will remember that Gustavo Petro decided to stand by the most despicable
monsters humanity has known, who burned babies, murdered children, raped women
and kidnapped innocent civilians,” Katz added.

Hamas, for
its part, hailed the move as a “victory.”

“We
greatly appreciate the position of Colombian President Gustavo Petro… which
we consider a victory for the sacrifices of our people and their just
cause,” the Islamist group said in a statement, urging other Latin
American countries to follow suit.

Colombia
has joined Bolivia, Belize and South Africa in severing or suspending ties with
Israel. Several other countries have recalled diplomats.

 ‘Fuelling anti-Semitism’

In October,
days after the start of the war, Israel announced it was “halting security
exports” to Colombia after Petro accused Israeli Defense Minister Yoav
Gallant of using language about the people of Gaza similar to what the
“Nazis said of the Jews.”

Israel, at
the time, accused Petro of “expressing support for the atrocities
committed by Hamas terrorists, fueling anti-Semitism” and summoned
Colombia’s ambassador.

Bogota
subsequently demanded that Israel’s envoy leave the South American country.

Petro,
Colombia’s first leftist president, has also asserted that “democratic
peoples cannot allow Nazism to reestablish itself in international
politics.”

In
February, he suspended Israeli weapons purchases after dozens of people died in
a scramble for food aid in the war-torn Gaza Strip – an event he said was
“called genocide and recalls the Holocaust.”

Colombia’s
armed forces, engaged in a decades-long conflict with leftist guerrillas,
right-wing paramilitaries and drug cartels, use Israeli-made weapons and
aircraft.

The country
has a history of strong diplomatic and military relations with Israel and the
United States.

Petro had
come out in support of Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who also
drew the ire of Israel by saying its Gaza campaign “isn’t a war, it’s a
genocide.”

Colombia
and Brazil supported South Africa’s complaint against Israel to the
International Court of Justice in The Hague, alleging the assault on the
besieged Palestinian territory amounted to a breach of the Genocide Convention.

Colombian
May Day demonstrator Sandra Gutierrez, a 38-year-old teacher, welcomed her
president’s announcement Wednesday.

“One
cannot be an accomplice of the murderers,” she told AFP on Plaza Bolivar
square.

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