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Bolivia cuts diplomatic ties with Israel over strikes in Gaza

People removed bodies from under the rubble of a home in Khan Younis that was destroyed by Israeli airstrikes, in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday.YOUSEF MASOUD/NYT

Bolivia has severed relations with Israel over its strikes on the Gaza Strip, 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.

Bolivia announced the decision Tuesday. Two other Latin American governments — in Chile and Colombia — said the same day that they were recalling their ambassadors to Israel in light of the strikes on Gaza, which have come in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel, which killed about 1,400 people and left more than 200 others as hostages.

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.”


On Wednesday, Israel responded, saying that Colombian and Chilean citizens were among the victims on Oct. 7. “Israel expects Colombia and Chile to support the right of a democratic country to protect its citizens,” Lior Haiat, a spokesperson for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Bolivia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it had cut diplomatic ties “in protest and condemnation of the aggressive and disproportionate Israeli military offensive taking place in the Gaza Strip, which threatens international peace and security.”

Bolivia had restored diplomatic ties with Israel in 2019 after a decadelong rupture that was also related to Israeli military actions in Gaza. In severing ties Tuesday, Bolivia called for an end to Israeli strikes on Gaza, denounced the thousands of casualties the strikes have inflicted and urged that sufficient food, water and aid be allowed to enter the enclave.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said 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 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 been 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, 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 such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center — Petro said he was open to suspending relations with Israel, although he stopped short of doing so 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.

Also on Wednesday, it was revealed the director of the New York office of the UN’s human rights agency has stepped down, accusing the United Nations in a sharply worded letter of abandoning its own principles and international law, and of failing to stop Israel’s deadly bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which he called a “genocide.”


The former director, Craig Mokhiber, a human rights lawyer, wrote in the letter dated Oct. 28: “I write at a moment of great anguish for the world, including for many of our colleagues. Once again, we are seeing a genocide unfolding before our eyes, and the organization that we serve appears powerless to stop it.”

In the letter, which was viewed by The New York Times and which the UN confirmed was authentic, he accused the US and British governments and much of Europe of being “complicit.” He described as “a textbook case of genocide” Israel’s offensive in Gaza and in the West Bank, which has killed at least 8,000 Palestinians, including more than 3,000 children, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza; and has damaged schools, medical facilities, mosques, and residential buildings, including UN offices.

The letter was addressed to Volker Türk, the UN high commissioner for human rights, who has called for an immediate cease-fire in the conflict and has criticized Israel’s blockade of Gaza and its airstrikes.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.