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10 Nov, 2023 18:13

US ally seeks to charge Israel with war crimes

Colombia wishes to join the case against Netanyahu before the International Criminal Court
US ally seeks to charge Israel with war crimes

Colombian President Gustavo Petro has announced that the Latin American country will seek to prosecute Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for atrocities committed against Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva was scheduled to meet with International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors on Friday, to formally press charges against Netanyahu over “the massacre of the Palestinian people’s children and civilians he has caused,” according to Petro.

The president posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Thursday that Colombia “will contribute to the complaint by the Republic of Algeria” for war crimes, filed before the ICC against Netanyahu.

Earlier this week, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune called on the ICC to “take action” to stop Israel’s campaign against Gaza, and urged human rights organizations and other Arab nations to sue Netanyahu.

Three NGOs – Al-Haq, Al Mezan, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights – did so on Wednesday, urging the ICC to investigate Israel for “apartheid” and “genocide” over the “continuous barrage of Israeli airstrikes on densely populated civilian areas within the Gaza Strip.”

The US classifies both Colombia and Israel as “major non-NATO ally” states. Trouble between the two began last month, however, when Israeli ambassador in Bogota, Gali Dagan, pushed Petro’s government to endorse Netanyahu’s war on Gaza.

Writing on X on October 19, Petro responded that “the barbarity of the state of Israel against the Palestinian people has far surpassed the barbarity of Hamas against the Israeli civilian population” during the October 7 attacks. The Colombian leader then called for an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with Israel.

Bogota has since asked Dagan to leave – he hasn’t – and recalled its envoy from Tel Aviv. Colombia stopped short of severing diplomatic ties with Israel, unlike Bolivia, which did so at the end of October.

Following the October 7 Hamas attack, when the Palestinian militants killed an estimated 1,400 Israelis and took over 200 captive, Israel declared war on Gaza and began bombing the enclave. More than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes so far, according to local authorities in Gaza.

Israel does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC, but the Hague-based court has ruled in 2021 that its writ applies to the West Bank and Gaza, which the UN considers to be under Israeli occupation since 1967.