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Colombia severed diplomatic relations with Israel - Tel Aviv reacted

Colombia severed diplomatic relations with Israel - Tel Aviv reacted President of Colombia Gustavo Petro (photo from the open sources)

President of Colombia Gustavo Petro announced on Wednesday, May 1, the government's decision to sever diplomatic relations with Israel due to the recent escalation of tensions between the two countries over the conflict in the Gaza Strip, reports AP.

Colombian leader once again referred to the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip as genocide. Earlier, he suspended the purchase of weapons from Israel and compared the country's actions in the region to those of Nazi Germany.

"Tomorrow, diplomatic relations with the State of Israel will be broken … for having a genocidal president. If Palestine dies, humanity dies, and we are not going to let it die," Petro said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz responded to Petro's comments on social media.

"History will remember that Gustavo Petro decided to side with the most despicable monsters known to mankind who burned babies, murdered children, raped women, and kidnapped innocent civilians," he wrote.

"Relations between Israel and Colombia always were warm and no antisemitic and hate-filled president will succeed in changing that. The state of Israel will continue to defend its citizens without worry and without fear," Katz added.

Essence of the conflict

Several weeks after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, 2023, Petro recalled Colombia's ambassador to Israel, who had criticized the country's military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Historically, Colombia has been one of Israel's closest partners in Latin America. However, relations between the countries began to deteriorate after the election of left-wing President Gustavo Petro in 2022.

The Latin American country uses military aircraft and machine guns built in Israel to combat drug cartels and insurgent groups, and in 2020, both countries signed a free trade agreement.

Colombia deepened its military ties with Israel in the late 1980s, purchasing Kfir fighter jets. The aircraft were used by the Colombian Air Force in numerous attacks on remote guerrilla camps, which wore down the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. These attacks helped push the group towards peaceful negotiations, leading to its disarmament in 2016.

War in the Gaza Strip

The situation in the Gaza Strip, where the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are conducting a military operation, remains complex. Thousands of civilians have been killed as a result of massive shelling and fighting in the region.

Recently, the Israeli government has increasingly announced its intention to carry out a military operation in the city of Rafah, located in the south of the Gaza Strip near the border with Egypt.

Several Western countries do not support such intentions of Tel Aviv, as it will lead to a large number of casualties among the 1.5 million refugees residing in the city.

Currently, negotiations are ongoing to approve a peace plan between the US, Qatar, and Egypt. According to the document, both sides of the conflict must release hostages, and Israel must cease hostilities and withdraw its troops from the Gaza Strip.