Demonstrators march at a rally held by the Boston Coalition for Palestine, calling for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., December 17, 2023. REUTERS/Reba Saldanha

BOGOTA (Agencies): In a significant move, Colombian President Gustavo Petro has announced the suspension of weapons purchases from Israel. This decision comes in the wake of a tragic incident where Israeli troops allegedly fired upon civilians seeking food in Gaza. The death toll from this violence has reached at least 112 Palestinians, adding to the grim toll of the Israel-Hamas war, which has claimed over 30,000 lives.

President Petro did not mince words, labeling these deaths as “genocide.” He squarely placed the blame on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the violence surrounding the aid convoy. The chaotic scene unfolded as people desperately sought food, with many victims reportedly trampled in the stampede.

This suspension of weapons procurement follows months of strained relations between Colombia and Israel. Earlier, Israel had halted security exports to Colombia due to a diplomatic dispute sparked by online messages from Colombia’s president, drawing parallels between Israel’s Gaza siege and Nazi Germany’s actions.

Petro’s forceful statement on social media emphasized the gravity of the situation. He called for global attention, urging the world to recognize the parallels with the Holocaust. His message was clear: Netanyahu must be held accountable. As a result, Colombia has decided to halt all purchases of weapons from Israel.

Colombia, a longstanding US ally, has maintained close ties with Israel in Latin America. However, relations have cooled since Petro’s election as the country’s first leftist president in 2022. Despite differences over US drug policy and Venezuela, Bogota and Washington continue to engage in relatively amicable dialogue.

Notably, Colombia relies on Israeli-built warplanes and machine guns in its fight against drug cartels and rebel groups. As tensions escalate, the international community watches closely, hoping for a peaceful resolution to this complex conflict.

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