LA PAZ: Bolivia said on Tuesday it was severing diplomatic ties with Israel over its “disproportionate” attacks in Gaza, as two other Latin American countries recalled their ambassadors over the mounting humanitarian crisis.

Bolivia “has decided to cut diplomatic relations with the State of Israel, in repudiation and condemnation of the aggressive and disproportionate Israeli military offensive being carried out in the Gaza Strip,” deputy foreign minister Freddy Mamani told a press conference.

Minister of the Presidency Maria Nela Prada also announced the country was sending humanitarian aid to Gaza.

“We demand an end to the attacks” in the Gaza Strip “which have so far caused thousands of civilian deaths and the forced displacement of Palestinians,” she said at the same press conference.

The government of leftist Luis Arce is the first in Latin America to cut ties with Israel since October 7.

Israel responded on Wednesday by slamming Bolivia’s move as “a surrender to terrorism.” “By taking this step,” Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said in a statement.

Bolivia only announced it was restoring ties with Israel in 2019, a decade after they were cut over previous attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Hamas hailed Bolivia’s decision on Tuesday, saying it “holds it in high esteem” while urging Arab countries who have normalised their relations with Israel to do the same.

The leaders of both Colombia and Chile also spoke out on Tuesday against the Israeli offensive on Gazans. “I have decided to recall our ambassador to Israel (Margarita Manjarrez) for consultation. If Israel does not stop the massacre of the Palestinian people, we cannot be there,” Colombian President Gustavo Petro wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Chile, which has the largest Palestinian population outside the Arab world, said on Tuesday it was recalling its ambassador to Israel in protest against Israel’s “unacceptable violations of international humanitarian law.”

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, has urged a ceasefire.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2023

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