Chile joins developing nations rallying behind genocide case against Israel at international court

Smoke rises from an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, May 31, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chile has joined a group of nations supporting a genocide case against Israel filed last year at the International Court of Justice.

President Gabriel Boric said in a speech to lawmakers Saturday that he was appalled by the humanitarian devastation in Gaza, especially against women and children. He accused the Israeli army of using "indiscriminate and disproportional" force.

“These acts demand a firm and permanent response of the international community,” the president said.

South Africa last year accused Israel at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, of violating its obligations under the Genocide Convention. Israel has strongly rejected the claim and has argued that the war in Gaza is a legitimate defense against Hamas militants for their Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel that killed around 1,200 people and took 250 hostages.

Chile is home to the largest Palestinian community outside the Middle East, with a population of around 500,000, many of them descendants of Christian Arab immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries. They took root in the South American country as small retail traders but have since gained prominence in business and politics. One of the country's most popular soccer teams is Palestino, whose white, black, green and red uniforms match the colors of the Palestinian flag.

Chile joins a group of mostly developing countries including Mexico, Brazil and Indonesia that has rallied behind South Africa's petition.

Boric, a leftist former student leader, has balanced condemnation of Hamas' attack with fierce criticism of Israel's military offensive, which has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza's Health Ministry, which doesn't distinguish between civilians and combatants in its count.