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On Tuesday, leaders of Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela joined Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in condemning Israel’s disproportionate use of force in Gaza, and violence against civilians in Israel.
The four countries, jointly known as the Mercosur Bloc along with Paraguay and Bolivia, were meeting in the Venezuelan capital Caracas to discuss a means to create an economic zone and transforming Latin America into a “regional pole of power, both political and economic”.
In a joint communique on Tuesday, the four leaders said they were gravely concerned by the mounting death toll and the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.
In the three-week Israeli operation to destroy Hamas’ homemade rocket capabilities and its underground tunnel network, nearly 1,250 Palestinians – mostly women and children have been killed. More than 6,700 have been injured.
Israel, which says it has lost 53 soldiers and three civilians, is determined to remove the threat of homemade rockets being fired into its cities.
The Mercosur leaders also called for quick implementation of an UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution to investigate alleged war crimes committed during Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip.
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa were among 29 countries in the 46-nation Council which last week voted for the resolution titled “Ensuring Respect for International Law in The Occupied Palestinian Territories including East Jerusalem”.
The US voted against the resolution while 17 other mostly European members abstained.
Earlier in the week, Rousseff told local media: “I think what’s happening in the Gaza Strip is dangerous. I don’t think it’s genocide, but I think it’s a massacre.”
Last week, Brazil became the first country to recall its ambassador from Israel because of the Gaza war, while Chinese President Xi Jinping said China is seriously concerned about the escalating conflict.
“We are seriously concerned about and saddened by the conflict in Gaza, which have caused heavy casualty of civilians,” said Xi, adding that China had urged the two sides to seek an immediate ceasefire.
“We support the mediation efforts by the United Nations, regional countries and the Arab League,” said Xi, reaffirming that China has always supported the just cause of the Palestinian people.
At the UN, non-permanent members Argentina and Chile told the Security Council late last week that they strongly condemned what Buenos Aires’ ambassador called Israel’s indiscriminate abuse of militarism.
A flurry of diplomatic activity to broker a ceasefire over the past week has ended in vain.
On Tuesday night, Hamas rejected a 24-hour ceasefire plan that was introduced by its former rival in Ramallah the Palestinian Authority.
Israel says it is ready to consider a ceasefire initiative but only if it is allowed to continue destroying tunnels it says are being used by Palestinian fighters to ambush Israeli soldiers.
Hamas says it will not sign on to a ceasefire deal unless it brings to an end the seven-year economic embargo of the Gaza Strip.