Colombian President Gustavo Petro made a public statement announcing that Colombia is aiming to prosecute Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the atrocities committed against Palestinian civilians in Gaza. The move came after Palestinian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to take action against Israel’s campaign in Gaza, urging human rights organizations and other Arab nations to sue Netanyahu.
Colombia’s Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva travelled to The Hague to meet with ICC prosecutors and formally press charges against Netanyahu for the “the massacre of the Palestinian people’s children and civilians he has caused,” according to Petro. The Latin American country has also pledged to contribute to the complaint filed by the Republic of Algeria for war crimes against Netanyahu.
On Thursday, President Petro took to Twitter to express Colombia’s stance, stating that the country will support the complaint filed by Algeria. The sit-down with ICC prosecutors is a crucial step in Colombia’s efforts to hold Netanyahu accountable for the alleged war crimes in Gaza, as well as in expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The matter between Colombia and Israel escalated following the October 7 Hamas attack, which led to Israel declaring war on Gaza and launching airstrikes in response. Colombian-Israeli relations have soured in recent weeks, following a clash between the Colombian government and the Israeli ambassador who urged Colombia to endorse Netanyahu’s approach to Gaza. President Petro condemned the Israeli military actions in Gaza, highlighting the discrepancy between the level of suffering experienced by Palestinians and Israelis during the conflict.
The United States classifies both Colombia and Israel as “major non-NATO ally” states. However, Colombia’s response to Israel’s actions in Gaza has sparked tension, with the Latin American nation recalling its ambassador from Tel Aviv and requesting the Israeli ambassador in Bogota to leave. These diplomatic maneuvers signify the strained relationship between the two nations.
In the face of the ongoing conflict, three non-governmental organizations urged the ICC to investigate Israel for “apartheid” and “genocide” due to the continuous barrage of Israeli airstrikes on densely populated civilian areas within the Gaza Strip. Israel has consistently maintained that the ICC does not have jurisdiction over its actions. However, the ICC previously ruled in 2021 that it has the authority to investigate Israel for potential war crimes, particularly in the West Bank and Gaza, as both regions are considered to be under Israeli occupation by the United Nations since 1967.
In seeking to join the case against Netanyahu, Colombia’s actions are emblematic of a growing international effort to address the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and hold parties accountable for human rights violations. As Colombia and other nations undertake these measures, it reflects a commitment to seeking justice and advocating for the protection of civilians affected by armed conflict.