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Colombia breaks diplomatic ties with Israel but its military relies on key Israeli-built equipment

Colombia’s military also uses Galil rifles, which were designed in Israel and for which Colombia acquired the rights to manufacture and sell.

petroBOGOTA: Colombia has become the latest Latin American country to announce it will break diplomatic relations with Israel over its military campaign in Gaza, but the repercussions for the South American nation could be broader than for other countries due to longstanding bilateral agreements over security matters.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro on Wednesday described Israel’s actions in Gaza as “genocide” and announced his government would end diplomatic relations with Israel effective Thursday. But he did not address how his decision could affect Colombia’s military, which uses Israeli-built warplanes and machine guns to fight drug cartels and rebel groups, and a free trade agreement between both countries that went into effect in 2020.

Also in the region, Bolivia and Belize have also severed diplomatic relations with Israel over the Israel-Hamas war.

Colombia and Israel have signed dozens of agreements on wide-ranging issues, including education and trade, since they established diplomatic relations in 1957. But nothing links them closer than military contracts.

Colombia’s fighter jets are all Israeli-built. The more than 20 Kfir Israeli-made fighter jets were used by its air force in numerous attacks on remote guerrilla camps that debilitated the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The attacks helped push the rebel group into peace talks that resulted in its disarmament in 2016.

But the fleet, purchased in the late 1980s, is aging and requires maintenance, which can only be carried out by an Israeli firm. Manufacturers in France, Sweden and the United States have approached Colombia’s government with replacement options, but the spending priorities of Petro’s administration are elsewhere.

Colombia’s military also uses Galil rifles, which were designed in Israel and for which Colombia acquired the rights to manufacture and sell. Israel also assists the South American country with its cybersecurity needs.

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