Israeli PM, Netanyahu Cancels Colombia Trip Over Gaza Attack

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put off a planned trip next week to Colombia to focus on developments along his country’s border with the Gaza Strip, Israeli officials said Thursday.

Benjamin Netanyahu

He had been scheduled to fly to Bogata on Monday.

“In light of the situation in the south, Prime Minister Netanyahu decided to stay in this country next week and therefore he cancelled his trip to Colombia,” they said on condition of anonymity, without elaborating.

Israel reimposed a blockade on fuel deliveries to Hamas-ruled Gaza on Thursday citing a resurgence in kites carrying firebombs over the border into southern Israel and signalling that a pause in tensions may be ending.

Mass protests for the return of Palestinian refugees to their former homes inside Israel erupted along the border on March 30.

Israeli fire has since killed at least 157 Palestinians. One Israeli soldier has also died.

There were two separate military flare-ups last month.

The first, on July 14, saw dozens of Israeli air strikes that killed two Palestinians, while some 200 rockets and mortar rounds were fired from the enclave at Israel in response.

It was the most serious exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 war.

On July 20, Israel unleashed a wave of strikes across the territory after a soldier was shot dead on the border. Three Hamas militants were killed in the strikes.

UN officials and Egypt brokered a ceasefire after the July 20 violence that resulted in a drop in tensions.

However, protests and clashes have continued along the border and the kite-borne firebombs did not stop completely as Israel demands.

Israeli daily Haaretz linked the cancellation of the Bogota trip to reports of progress towards a new ceasefire in talks with Hamas being mediated by the United Nations and Egypt.

Netanyahu was expected to convene his security cabinet on Sunday, “to discuss the efforts to reach a deal with Hamas”, it said.

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