Venezuela to send aid to Gaza and welcomes refugees

Venezuela's foreign minister, Elias Jaua.

Venezuela has vowed to send relief aid to Gaza as a “testament of solidarity” with Palestinians being “massacred” by Israel.

Venezuela’s foreign ministry opened its doors to donations of humanitarian aid for Gaza on Thursday.

Contributions from the public will be accepted at the foreign ministry’s headquarters in Caracas, Foreign Minister Elías Jaua stated Thursday morning.

“Until Sunday, we will have the doors open to make contributions, especially medicine, non-perishable foods, blankets [and] sleeping mats,” Jaua stated. Donations will be airlifted to Gaza next week, according to the foreign minister.

However, he didn’t explain how the shipment will reach Gazans, who are subject to an Israeli blockade. Israeli forces have blocked shipments of humanitarian aid in the past, including medicine and construction equipment.

For over a decade, Venezuela has been an ardent supporter of Palestine. Former President Hugo Chavez was an outspoken critic of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, and broke off diplomatic relations with Israel in 2009.

“[Venezuela] wants to convey … solidarity at this time to the thousands of men, women, children and elderly people who are being massacred in Gaza by the state of Israel,” Jaua stated.

Last night, President Nicolas Maduro also announced that Venezuela would build a shelter in the South American country to welcome Palestinian child survivors of the conflict. Speaking on national television, he said that his government would suggest that regional allies do the same.

“We’re proposing in the heart of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) that a shelter is created in our countries carrying the name of Hugo Chavez, to bring in the children of this war,” he stated.

Mercosur leaders condemn Israel

Presidents of the bloc have urged the international community to act within international law.

The Presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela on Tuesday afternoon unanimously condemned the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli troops in Gaza, which after 22 days has mostly affected civilians, women and children.

The leaders of Argentina (Cristina Fernandez), Brazil (Dilma Rousseff), Uruguay (Jose Mujica) and Venezuela (Nicolas Maduro) also condemned any kind of violent actions against civilian populations in Israel.

The regional heads of state were celebrating the Mercosur Summit in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas to discuss various integration issues.

Members of Mercusor have boycotted Israel.
Members of Mercusor have boycotted Israel.

In a joint statement, they also expressed deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation resulting from the conflict and have urged to that international laws be strictly respected, including the one concerning human rights and humanitarian laws.

The Mercosur leaders expressed support for the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution on “Ensuring Respect for international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), including East Jerusalem”, approved on July 23 this year, which highlights the importance and urgency of investigating all violations of International Humanitarian Law to establish the facts and circumstances of such violations and crimes and identify those responsible.

They called for an immediate lifting of the blockade affecting Gaza’s population, allowing the free movement of people, the entry of food, medicine and humanitarian aid, both by land and sea.

The presidents of Mercosur’s member countries also called on the international community to exert proper pressure for an immediate lasting cease-fire and prompt restoration of dialogue as the only solution to the conflict, while reiterating its support for the solution of two states living in peace and security within internationally recognized borders.

Finally, they supported the peace efforts of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, and the Arab Republic of Egypt.

The death toll in Gaza is now over 1,200 after 22 days of the Israeli offensive against the besieged Gaza Strip, according to health sources on the ground.

Latin American social movements plan action against Israel

Meanwhile on Monday, the foreign relations ministers of Mercosur received a letter this from various Latin American social organizations demanding that the bloc suspend its free trade agreement with Israel due to its violent and deadly attacks on Gaza.

Leaders of Mercosur
Leaders of Mercosur

“We must underscore that our request is based on the flagrant violation of Human Rights which the State of Israel is committing in the Gaza Strip, in the State of Palestine, which can be considered war crimes and/or crimes against human humanity,” the NGOs wrote.

Over 15 social movements from Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela signed the letter, urging the South American bloc to implement measures against Israel, which has indiscriminately bombed Gaza, destroying over 3,000 homes, displacing close to 200,000 Palestinians, and killing over 1,650 Gazzans, mostly civilians – women and children.

“One of the essential conditions which the bloc (Mercosur) must take into consideration for approving free trade agreements should be the respect of human rights by Latin American states and foreign states,” the organizations said in the letter.

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