Bolivia has severed relations with Israel over its strikes on Gaza, a diplomatic decision that Israel condemned as a “surrender to terrorism” even as its own ties with other countries in Latin America began to fray.
The governments of Chile and Colombia said on Tuesday that they were recalling their ambassadors to Israel for “consultations” in light of the strikes on Gaza, which have been in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel that killed about 1,400 people.
In a statement, Chile accused Israel of refusing to respect international laws and said its airstrikes were a “collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza.”
Bolivia’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the decision to cut diplomatic ties, announced Tuesday, had been made “in protest and condemnation of the aggressive and disproportionate Israeli military offensive taking place in the Gaza Strip, which threatens international peace and security.”
The Latin American nation had only restored diplomatic ties with Israel in 2019 after a decade-long rupture that was also in protest over the Israeli military’s actions in Gaza. In severing ties, Bolivia called for an end to Israel’s current strikes on Gaza, denounced the thousands of casualties the Israeli strikes have since inflicted and urged that sufficient food, water and aid be allowed to enter the enclave.
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that relations with Bolivia had been “devoid of content” under the Latin American country’s current government. “By taking this step, the Bolivian government is aligning itself with the Hamas terrorist organization,” the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
Israel also accused Bolivia of bowing to the influence of Iran, which has long supported Hamas and other groups that oppose Israel.
Israel’s relationship with Colombia, friendly for years, has strained in the aftermath of the Hamas attacks. President Gustavo Petro has also been starkly critical of the Israeli government. After Israel’s defense minister described Hamas as “human animals” in his announcement of the siege on Gaza, Mr. Petro remarked on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “This is what the Nazis said about the Jews.”
Last month, after Israel said it was cutting off security exports to Colombia over the comment — which was also roundly condemned by Holocaust memorial organizations like the Simon Wiesenthal Center — Mr. Petro said he was open to suspending relations with Israel, although he stopped short of doing so on Tuesday.
The Palestinian cause has long received strong support in Latin America and elsewhere in the developing world. The war in Gaza is adding to resentments there and accusations that the West is applying a double standard in its approach to the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.
Brazil has been described as a swing state of sorts in the developing world. This month, as the holder of the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council, it drafted a resolution that called for a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza and condemned the “heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas.”
“Hundreds of thousands of civilians in Gaza cannot wait any longer,” he said. “Actually, they have waited far too long.”
Julie Turkewitz contributed reporting.