Honduras recalls ambassador to Israel as it condemns civilian Palestinian toll in war

A man steps over the bodies of dead and injured Palestinians lying on the ground following an Israeli airstrike outside the entrance of the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Friday, Nov. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)
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TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Honduras on Friday became the latest Latin American country to recall its ambassador to Israel for consultations as it condemned what it called genocide and other serious violations of international law in the Gaza Strip.

The Central American country's Foreign Affairs Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina said on X, formerly Twitter, that President Xiomara Castro had decided to immediately recall the ambassador in light of “the serious humanitarian situation the civilian Palestinian population is suffering in the Gaza Strip.”

Honduras is the latest leftist-led Latin American government to take diplomatic steps to express its disapproval of Israel’s expanded offensive.

Bolivia’s government severed diplomatic relations with Israel on Tuesday, accusing it of carrying out “crimes against humanity” in Gaza. Chile and Colombia also recalled their own ambassadors to Israel as they criticized the Israeli offensive against Hamas militants.

The Palestinian death toll in the Israel-Hamas war has reached 9,227, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, most of them in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that started the fighting, and 242 hostages were taken from Israel into Gaza by the militant group.

Reina told The Associated Press that recalling the ambassador was a way to draw attention to the civilian situation in Gaza and said the government decided to pull him out until the situation was clearer. Relations with Israel remain stable and Honduran diplomats and staff will remain in the embassy, he added.

He noted the main points of a recent United Nations resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire, respect for humanitarian law and to start a dialogue in search of peace.

“It is a position to say, in a way, that the situation of the innocent population concerns us,” Reina said.

In 2021, Honduras moved its embassy to the contested city of Jerusalem under then-President Juan Orlando Hernández, who is now awaiting trial on drug trafficking charges in the United States.

At the time, Honduras’ decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem was seen as an attempt by Hernández to curry favor with the Trump administration, which had moved the U.S. embassy there in 2018.

Castro, a leftist, succeeded Hernández. Honduras' first female president has tried to walk a line that aligns with other leftist governments in the hemisphere like Venezuela and Cuba, but without completely alienating the United States.

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Follow AP’s coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean at https://apnews.com/hub/latin-america