Colombian President Gustavo Petro has condemned Israel’s bombardments of Gaza, calling its war in the besieged Palestinian enclave that has so far killed about 8,800 people “genocide”.
Petro’s remarks came in a post on X on Wednesday, accompanied by a picture of victims of the Israeli air attack on the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza that killed at least 195 people. At least 120 people are also missing, according to Gaza’s officials.
“It’s called Genocide, they do it to remove the Palestinian people from Gaza and take it over,” he wrote.
“The head of the state who carries out this genocide is a criminal against humanity,” wrote Petro. “Their allies cannot talk about democracy.”
Se llama Genocidio, lo hacen para sacar el pueblo palestino de Gaza y apropiarsela.
El jefe del estado que hace este genocidio es un criminal contra la humanidad. Sus aliados no pueden hablar de democracia. pic.twitter.com/WjRpGKBKPs
— Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo) November 1, 2023
Petro’s comments were posted a day after Colombia, along with Chile, which has the largest Palestinian population in Latin America, recalled their ambassadors to Israel in condemnation of Israel’s bombardment of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
Chile’s President Gabriel Boric cited Israel’s “unacceptable violations of international humanitarian law” for the move.
Bolivia cut ties with Israel completely over its bombardment and siege of Gaza and mounting civilian casualties. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called on Israel to end its bombing of Gaza.
“We are seeing, for the first time, a war in which the majority of those killed are children,” Lula wrote on X. “Stop! For the love of God, stop!”
Argentina, which has the largest Jewish community in Latin America, has issued a condemnation of Israel’s attack on the Jabalia refugee camp, saying: “Nothing justifies the violation of international humanitarian law”, while also calling for the release of captives held by Hamas, the group that rules Gaza.
Peru and Mexico lambasted the Israeli attacks on Wednesday. Peru’s foreign ministry released a statement, saying: “Peru condemns, and will continue to condemn, violence from wherever it comes from.”
Mexican diplomat Alicia Buenrostro, speaking at a UN emergency special session on Gaza, called for the “occupying power” of Israel to cease its claim to the Palestinian territories, arguing for a two-state solution.
“This needs to stop,” she said, adding that Mexico would increase its aid to Palestinian refugees.
The three countries called for Hamas to release its captives. Both Argentina and Peru have said nationals of their countries have been killed in the conflict, while Mexico says it has nationals among the kidnapped.
Israel expects support
Israel responded to these diplomatic moves by demanding that Chile and Colombia condemn Hamas instead.
“Israel expects Colombia and Chile to support the right of a democratic country to protect its citizens, and to call for the immediate release of all the abductees, and not align themselves with Venezuela and Iran in support of Hamas terrorism,” Israel’s foreign ministry said.
Meanwhile, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organisation, criticised Bolivia, Chile and Colombia on Wednesday, accusing them of siding with “terrorists” and of being “hostile toward Israel”.
Arab countries, including those at peace with Israel, are also expressing mounting unease with the war.
Jordan recalled its ambassador from Israel and told Israel’s envoy to remain out of the country until there is a halt to the war and the “humanitarian catastrophe” it is causing.
Some United Nations officials have said that Israel’s bombing of the Jabalia refugee camp could be considered a war crime.
Craig Mokhiber, a top UN human rights official who stepped down at the weekend over the organisation’s response to the war in Gaza, has called on the UN to attach the same standards to Israel as it does when assessing human rights violations in other countries around the world.
Mokhiber, who was the director of the New York office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, wrote in his October 28 resignation letter that Israel’s military actions in Gaza were “textbook genocide”, and accused the UN of again “failing” to act, referring to previous genocides in Bosnia, Rwanda and Myanmar.
“The current wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian people, rooted in an ethno-nationalist colonial-settler ideology, in continuation of decades of their systematic persecution and purging, based entirely upon their status as Arabs … leaves no room for doubt,” Mokhiber said in his letter to the UN human rights chief, Volker Turk.
About 3,600 Palestinian children have been killed in 25 days of fighting, as bombings have driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and food, water and fuel run low.
Israeli troops pushed into Gaza in larger numbers over the weekend after three weeks of heavy air raids that have demolished entire neighbourhoods and driven more than half the territory’s 2.3 million people from their homes.
The war, the fifth and by far the deadliest in Gaza, began when Hamas launched a bloody October 7 incursion into southern Israel, which killed more than 1,400 men, women and children. About 240 people were captured, according to Israel.