Venezuela: We cut ties with Israel over 'persecution of Palestinians'
Socialist Chavez has called IDF Gaza op a Palestinian 'holocaust'; Bolivia also breaks ties.
Venezuela cut ties with Israel in protest over its military offensive in the Gaza Strip, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
"Venezuela ... has definitively decided to break diplomatic ties with the state of Israel given the inhumane persecution of the Palestinian people carried out by the authorities of Israel," said a statement read over state television.
Venezuela expelled Israel's ambassador in Caracas last Tuesday to protest the offensive in Gaza. The move came just hours after President Hugo Chavez called the attacks a "holocaust."
This Tuesday however, the South American country passed a message to Israel in which it said they are not interested in breaking off diplomatic relations with Israel.
Israel's 20-day offensive, launched to halt rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas militants, has killed more than 1,000 Palestinians. A Palestinian rights group said 670 of those killed were civilians. Thirteen Israelis have been killed, including three civilians hit by Hamas rocket fire and 10 soldiers killed in Gaza fighting.
Bolivian President Evo Morales, a close Chavez ally, on Wednesday also cut ties with Israel to protest the attacks.
Chavez in 2006 threatened to break ties with Israel over its five-week war in Lebanon in a diplomatic spat that led both countries to withdraw their envoys.