An Israeli tank in the Gaza region, July 23, 2014.
An Israeli tank in the Gaza region, July 23, 2014. Photo by Ilan Assayag
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Brazilian Embassy in Israel. Photo by google maps

Brazil decided Thursday to recall its ambassador in Tel Aviv to protest what it has called "disproportionate use of force by Israel" in the Gaza Strip.

"The Brazilian government considers unacceptable escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine. We strongly condemn the disproportionate use of force by Israel in the Gaza Strip, from which large numbers of civilian casualties, including women and children resulted," the Brazilian government said in its statement. "The Brazilian Government reiterates his call for an immediate ceasefire between the parties."

"Given the seriousness of the situation, the Brazilian government voted for the resolution of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations on the subject In addition, the Ambassador of Brazil in Tel Aviv was called to Brasilia for consultations."

Brazil is the second country to recall its envoy, following Ecuador's move a day earlier.

The decision comes amid heightened tensions in the international community over Israel's operation in the Gaza Strip.

The United Nations Human Rights Council on Wednesday launched a commission of inquiry into alleged Israeli war crimes in its current Gaza offensive, backing Palestinian efforts to have Israel held up to international scrutiny.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office fiercely condemned the UN council's decision as a "travesty and should be rejected by decent people everywhere."

Foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel was disappointed by the decision, saying "it does not reflect the level of relations between the countries and ignores Israel's right to defend itself."

"Such steps do not contribute to promote calm and stability in the region. Rather, they provide tailwind to terrorism, and naturally affect Brazil’s capacity to wield influence. Israel expects support from its friends in its struggle against Hamas, which is recognized as a terror organization by many countries around the world," he added.

Meeting in Geneva, the 46-member council backed a Palestinian-drafted resolution by 29 votes, with supports from Arab and Muslim countries, China, Russia, Latin American and African nations.

The United States was the only member to vote against the resolution, while European countries abstained.

The last such investigation faced by Israel was the so-called Goldstone Committee, which harshly criticized Israel's conduct during its 2008 hostilities with Hamas in Gaza.

Netanyahu's office blasted the rights council for placing its criticism in the wrong place, investigating Israel rather than Hamas and "sending a message to Hamas" that the use of human shields is effective strategy."

"The decision today by the HRC is a travesty and should be rejected by decent people everywhere," Netanyahu's office said in a statement released immediately after the council's decision.

"Rather than investigate Hamas, which is committing a double war crime by firing rockets at Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians, the HRC calls for an investigation of Israel, which has gone to unprecedented lengths to keep Palestinian civilians out of harm's way, including by dropping leaflets, making phone calls and sending text messages."