Israel halts security exports to Colombia over president’s support of Hamas

Foreign Ministry summons Bogota’s envoy due to ‘hostile and antisemitic statements’ by leader Gustavo Petro, who branded Israelis ‘Nazis’ for response to terror assault

Colombia's President Gustavo Petro waves at his supporters at Bolivar square after a march to support his proposed reforms, in Bogota, Colombia, September 27, 2023. (Fernando Vergara/AP)
Colombia's President Gustavo Petro waves at his supporters at Bolivar square after a march to support his proposed reforms, in Bogota, Colombia, September 27, 2023. (Fernando Vergara/AP)

Israel, one of the main providers of arms to Colombia’s military, said Sunday it was “halting security exports” to the South American country due to remarks made by its president, which have included branding Israelis “Nazis” for their military response to a massive terror attack by Hamas that massacred over 1,000 civilians.

Since the terror group’s vicious attack on Israel a week ago, President Gustavo Petro has posted numerous comments on X, formerly Twitter, supporting the people of the Gaza Strip.

In one post, Colombia’s first-ever leftist president compared Israel’s campaign to eradicate the Hamas terror group in Gaza to the Nazi persecution of Jews.

Commenting on Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announcing a “complete siege” of Gaza in a fight against “human animals,” Petro said: “This is what the Nazis said of the Jews.”

He asserted that “democratic peoples cannot allow Nazism to reestablish itself in international politics.”

Israel has declared its intention to destroy Hamas in reaction to the terror group’s brutal rampage across southern on October 7, in which 1,300 people — over 1,000 of them civilians — were killed and at least 155 more taken hostage to Gaza. Among the victims were men, women, and children, including dozens of babies. Some of the victims were mutilated and there were reportedly incidents of rape, and torture of children. In some location, entire families were murdered. Thousands more were injured, hundreds of them seriously. The invasion by over 1,500 gunmen came alongside a barrage of 5,000 rocket fired at towns and cities across Israel, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Hamas has continued to rain rockets on southern and central Israel, causing further injuries and deaths.

An IDF soldier prepares to remove the bodies of Israelis killed during an October 7, 2023, attack by Palestinian terrorists, in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, in southern Israel bordering the Gaza Strip, on October 10, 2023. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Israel has retaliated with artillery and airstrikes, and officials from the Hamas-controlled health ministry estimate that more than 2,600 Palestinian have died. Israel says it is targeting terrorist infrastructure and all areas where Hamas operates or hides out, while issuing evacuation warnings to civilians in regions it plans to attack.

On Sunday, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said Colombia’s ambassador to Israel Margarita Manjarrez had been summoned over Petro’s “hostile and anti-Semitic statements.”

The president’s statements were received with “astonishment… given Hamas’s barbaric terrorist attack,” said the spokesman, and accused Petro of “expressing support for the atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists, fueling antisemitism, affecting the representatives of the State of Israel and threatening the peace of the Jewish community in Colombia.”

As the first measure taken in response, Israel decided to stop security exports to Colombia,” Haiat said.

Colombia’s foreign ministry initially issued a statement to “vehemently condemn the terrorism and attacks against civilians that have occurred in Israel” and expressing solidarity with the victims.

But the link to that statement was later disabled, with a new statement of condemnation not making any mention of “terrorism.”

Rockets are fired from Gaza towards Israel on October 15, 2023. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Colombia’s armed forces, engaged in a decades-long conflict with leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drug cartels, uses Israeli arms and aircraft.

In response to Haiat’s statement, Petro said his country does not support “genocide.”

“If we have to suspend foreign relations with Israel, we suspend them,” he added.

Opposition parties in Colombia are critical of the government’s response to the Israel-Hamas conflict, whic stands in marked contrast to the pro-Israeli stance of most countries in the region.

Israel’s envoy to Bogota, Gali Dagan, said last week that protesters had left graffiti that included swastikas on the facade of the embassy.

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