Gustavo Petro
Colombian president Gustavo Petro AFP

Colombian President Gustavo Petro announced the country will suspend coal exports to Israel over its actions during the war against Hamas in Gaza, saying they will only resume "when the genocide" stops.

He also posted a draft decree of the measure, which adds that coal exports will resume when the country complies with an order by the International Criminal Court ordering the country to withdraw its troops from the Palestinian enclave.

Israel imports over half of its coal from Colombia, much of it used to feed its power plants, according to The Associated Press. Petro made the announcement hours after the Israeli operation where troops rescued four hostages that had been taken during the October 7 attack by Hamas, which catalyzed the war.

The Gaza health ministry, run by Hamas, said that over 200 Palestinians died during the operation and that over 400 were injured. Israel has placed the blame on Hamas for keeping hostages in areas full of civilians, with reports detailing that hostages stayed in family homes paid by Hamas to keep them.

Petro has been among the most vocal critics of Israel outside of the Middle East. In May he announced the country would sever diplomatic ties with Israel. It was also among the first countries to take diplomatic measures, recalling its ambassador for consultations in early November, shortly after the war began. In Latin America, Chile made the same decision then, while also Bolivia severed ties altogether.

Petro has also been criticized for his approach to the issue, considering he never condemned the actions by Hamas. Neighboring countries Egypt and Jordan also condemned the attacks on the Nuseirat refugee camp.

In contrast, several global leaders celebrated the operation that rescued Noa Argamani, 26; Almog Meir Jan, 22; Andrey Kozlov, 27; and Shlomi Ziv, 41, after almost 250 days in captivity. Argamani was one of the most widely recognized hostages after images showed her being taken to Gaza while screaming "Don't kill me!" One Israeli commando was killed during the operation.

President Joe Biden and other high-ranking U.S. officials welcomed the release of the hostages and vowed to continue working for a cease-fire agreement that sees the return of all 120 who remain in Gaza, 43 of them believed to be dead. Survivors include some 15 women, two children under 5 and two men in their 80s.

The Israeli Defense Forces have so far rescued seven hostages. Two in February and one shortly after the October 7 attack. They also mistakenly killed three who had escaped their captors and recovered the bodies of 16 who died either in the attack or while in Gaza.

Divisions continue in Israel regarding the best way forward, with many advocating for a cease-fire and others seeking to continue the offensive and destroy Hamas.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.