Israel Palestine Conflict

Colombia suspends Israel arms purchases after dozens killed collecting aid in Gaza

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Accusing Israel of “genocide” in Gaza, Colombia’s leftist President Gustavo Petro on Thursday suspended Israeli weapons purchases after dozens of people died in a scramble for food aid in the war-torn Palestinian territory.

Israel is one of the main providers of weapons to the South American country’s security forces, which are engaged in a decades-long conflict with leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drug cartels.

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Petro made his announcement Thursday after Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians scrambling for food aid in a chaotic melee that the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory said killed more than 100 people. Scores were injured.

An Israeli source acknowledged troops had opened fire on the crowd, believing it “posed a threat.”

“Asking for food, more than 100 Palestinians were killed by (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu. This is called genocide and recalls the Holocaust,” Petro wrote on X.

“The world must block Netanyahu. Colombia is suspending all arms purchases from Israel.”

Colombia’s military and police have for decades used rifles, pistols and missiles from Israel.

Its air force owns about 20 Kfir combat aircraft, and the country has the rights to manufacture Galil automatic rifles and Spike missiles under Israeli patent.

Petro, a critic of Israel’s campaign in Gaza, has argued vehemently with the ambassador of that country in Bogota, Gali Dagan.

In October, just days after the start of the war, Israel said it was “halting security exports” to Colombia after Petro accused Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant of using language about the people of Gaza similar to what the “Nazis said of the Jews.”

Colombia’s first leftist president has also asserted that “democratic peoples cannot allow Nazism to reestablish itself in international politics.”

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Thursday’s incident added to a Palestinian death toll which the Gaza health ministry said had topped 30,000, mainly women and children.

The war began on October 7 with an unprecedented Hamas attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of around 1,160 people, mostly civilians, Israeli figures show.

Militants also took about 250 hostages, 130 of whom remain in Gaza, including 31 Israel says are presumed dead.

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