Update on Latin American Responses to Israel's Siege on Gaza

July 31, 2014

Stephan Lefebvre

[Below is an update to the blog post from July 21 reviewing how Latin America’s political leaders responded to Israel’s siege on Gaza.]

In a coordinated move on Tuesday (July 29), several Latin American countries recalled their ambassadors to Israel, including El Salvador, Chile, and Peru, the latter two of which made a point to say they had consulted with each other before announcing their decision. This means that five countries so far have recalled their ambassadors over Israel’s attack on Gaza which began July 8th, since Brazil and Ecuador had done so earlier. According to reports from Haaretz, Israel’s Foreign Ministry responded by saying that El Salvador, Peru and Chile were encouraging Hamas by recalling their ambassadors. 

El Salvador announced its decision to recall its ambassador over “the serious escalation in violence and the realization of indiscriminate bombing from Israel into the Gaza Strip,” which they say has resulted in many deaths, injuries, an exodus of Palestinians fleeing their homes, and serious material damage. Chile recalled its ambassador the same day (July 29), saying that Israel’s military operations “comprise a collective punishment against the civilian population of Palestine in Gaza.” The same statement from Chile condemns rocket launches by Hamas against civilians in Israel, but argues that Israeli operations in Gaza “violate the principle of proportionality in the use of force, an indispensable requirement for the justification of legitimate defense.” The government of Peru recalled its ambassador and said that Israel’s military operations in Gaza “constitute a new and reiterated violation of the basic norms of international humanitarian law.”

In addition, several countries put out new statements reacting to the conflict.

Argentina’s government put out a statement expressing concern over an Argentine priest working in Gaza to oversee care for 30 disabled children, nine elderly people and a group of six nuns. The message was sent to Israel’s ambassador to Argentina and makes clear that Argentina holds the government of Israel responsible for the priest’s safety, for the safety of his charges and for the resumption of food, electricity and water services to the neighborhood where they are located.

Yesterday (July 30), Bolivia declared Israel a “terrorist state” and cancelled a visa exception agreement that had been in effect since 1972. Brazil recalled its ambassador to Israel on July 23rd, saying “We strongly condemn the disproportionate use of force by Israel in the Gaza Strip, from which large numbers of civilian casualties, including women and children, resulted.” The move drew criticism from the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which said “This is an unfortunate demonstration of why Brazil, an economic and cultural giant, remains a diplomatic dwarf.” Costa Rica put out a statement repudiating Israel’s disproportionate use of force against the civilian population in Gaza, and another deploring Israel’s attack on U.N. personnel and civilians on July 24.

All but one (Paraguay) of the Mercosur countries joined together in a statement (July 29) strongly condemning “the disproportionate use of force on the part of the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip.” The statement calls for Israel to lift its blockade on Gaza so as to “permit the free movement of people, [and] the entry of food, medicine and humanitarian aid.”

The most recent statement from Colombia’s government brought it closer to the position of the vast majority of its neighbors who have condemned Israel’s attack on Gaza. While their press release from July 10th condemned “acts of violence and terrorism against Israel,” without mentioning operations of the Israeli armed forces, the latest statement from Colombia’s foreign ministry (July 22) “rejects the military offensive by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip” and expresses condolences for “victims of Israel’s retaliatory actions.”

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