Bolivia’s new President Luis Arce’s Presidency Minister Marianela Prada delivers a speech during her inauguration ceremony at the Casa Grande del Pueblo government palace in La Paz on November 9, 2020. – Leftist economist Luis Arce assumed the Bolivian presidency facing the challenge of uniting a polarized society and reactivating an economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by AIZAR RALDES / AFP) (Photo by AIZAR RALDES/AFP via Getty Images)
Aizar Raldes | Afp | Getty Images
Diplomatic relations between Israel and a spate of South American countries have deteriorated or been severed amid the former’s ongoing military campaign in the Gaza Strip.
Bolivia on Tuesday announced it has cut off diplomatic ties with Israel as a result of the civilian deaths caused by its war in the Gaza Strip, while Chile and Colombia have recalled their ambassadors to the Middle Eastern country for consultations.
The Bolivian decision took place after a Monday meeting with the Palestinian ambassador to the South American country, said Maria Nela Prada, minister of the Bolivian presidency, in an update.
In addition to dissolving diplomatic ties with Israel, she said Bolivia’s government “demands the end of attacks in the Gaza Strip, which have so far led to thousands of civilian deaths, and the forced displacement of Palestinian people,” according to a CNBC translation.
“The government of Bolivia’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with Israel is a surrender to terrorism and to the Ayatollah’s regime in Iran,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “By taking this step, the Bolivian government is aligning itself with the Hamas terrorist organization.”
It added, “In any case, since the change of government in Bolivia, relations between the countries have been devoid of content.”
Bolivia already broke off diplomatic ties with Israel between 2009 and 2020, also because of its military actions in the Gaza Strip, which have killed thousands of people. Israel says its actions are in self-defense and targeted at the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
Overnight, Colombian President Gustavo Petro and his Chilean counterpart Gabriel Boric Font both announced recalling their countries’ ambassadors to Israel for consultations in separate social media posts translated by CNBC.
The international community has had a divided response toward the retaliatory military campaign carried out by the Israel Defense Forces in response to the terror attacks perpetrated by Hamas on Oct. 7. Several countries, including the U.S., advocate for Israel’s right to self-defense — while calling for a proportionate response.
The U.N. and human rights groups have repeatedly flagged that Israel’s offensive is exacerbating an existing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza enclosure, which has been besieged, bombarded and cut off from Israel’s own supplies of fuel, electricity, water and food since early October.
Humanitarian aid has begun to trickle in, with a first set of civilians — comprising foreign nationals and holders of dual nationalities — set to enter the Rafah Crossing on Wednesday and advance into Egypt. The Rafah Crossing is the only exit point from the Gaza Strip that is not seaborne or controlled by Israel.
Palestinians search for casualties at the site of Israeli strikes on houses in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, October 31, 2023.
Anas al-Shareef | Reuters
Fresh international criticism erupted after Israel on Tuesday launched an airstrike against the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern part of the Gaza enclosure, killing dozens and wounding hundreds, according to a local hospital.
Israel said its offensive had killed senior Hamas commander Ibrahim and defended it as hitting an “important military objective,” according to Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Jonathan Conricus.
He also cautioned against the casualty figures comes out of the Gaza Strip, which CNBC could not independently verify, saying: “I have not seen confirmed numbers of any of the civilian casualties. I understand that there may be, but I would recommend caution when claiming they have been killed,” he said.
Gaza’s health ministry, which is run by Hamas, said Wednesday that more than 8,500 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, with more than 3,200 of them children. In response to U.S. President Joe Biden casting doubt on the figures, the ministry published a list more than 200 pages long detailed the names of all those it says it had confirmed as dead.
No independent body has been able to enter Gaza to verify casualty numbers, as its borders are sealed.