CARACAS, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- Visiting Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-Maliki said here Wednesday that Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip was "genocide" and Israel should be held accountable for "crimes against humanity."
Maliki, who was in Venezuela to receive and help coordinate humanitarian aid for the Palestinian victims, visited the International Criminal Court (ICC) last week to press the case against Israel.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua in Caracas, Maliki said the Israeli military operation has killed nearly 2,000 Palestinians, including at least 456 children and 237 women, and wounded 10,000 others.
The air and ground offensive has also damaged vital infrastructure in Gaza, including electricity and potable water supply plants, and completely destroyed 17 hospitals, 141 schools and 11,000 homes; another 32,000 homes have been partially destroyed, said Maliki.
"We are experiencing real genocide, total destruction with the intent to abolish the Palestinian people living in Gaza," Maliki said.
"It is also psychological warfare, because Israel has always tried to send a very strong message to the Palestinian people that they dictate, determine and decide how the Palestinian people live," added the envoy.
"Israel is occupying the life, destiny and future of the Palestinian people and now it's time to talk about the end of the Israeli occupation. It's time for all nations to work together and demand a free, independent and democratic Palestinian state," said Maliki.
Current negotiations in Egypt between the parties in conflict aim to stop the killing, not to negotiate Palestinian statehood, he noted.
The Palestinian official thanked Venezuela for 12 tons of humanitarian aid shipped Tuesday and a second 15-ton cargo scheduled to be sent later this week.
With few exceptions, Latin American nations have condemned the Israeli military attacks on civilians and the disproportionate use of firepower.
"It has been very important for us to see the reaction in Latin America. That gave us the strength to endure some more and resist. For us it is very important," said Maliki.
"There have been serious reactions from the (Latin American) governments and peoples in solidarity and support for the Palestinian struggle. If we could choose to belong to a region, Palestine would like to belong in Latin America," said Maliki.
Maliki's visit is part of a Latin American tour to receive aid and acknowledge the regional support for the Palestinian community.
Navi Pillay, the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, said last month that Israel appeared to be deliberately defying international law in Gaza by targeting homes, schools, hospitals, and UN premises.