Chile's President Michelle Bachelet.
Chile's President Michelle Bachelet waves as she leaves the Itamaraty Palce after the 6th BRICS summit and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), in Brasilia July 16, 2014. Photo by Reuters
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El Salvador recalled its Israeli ambassador from Tel Aviv on Wednesday to protest the military operation in Gaza, making it the fifth Latin American country to do so.

Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru have already recalled their ambassadors.

Yigal Palmor, the spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, said recalling ambassadors encourages Hamas.

"Israel expresses its deep disappointment with the hasty decision of the governments of El Salvador, Peru and Chile to recall their ambassadors for consultations," said Palmor. "This step constitutes encouragement for Hamas, a group recognized as a terror organization by many countries around the world."

Such countries are handing are handing terrorists a prize, said Palmor.

"Israel expects countries that oppose terrorism to act responsibly and not to hand terrorists a prize," he said. "So far, every time Israel accepted plans for establishing a cease-fire and restoring calm, it was countered by Hamas’s sustained rocket fire. El Salvador, Chile and Peru would have been much better advised to promote the international move intended to assist Israel in its efforts to defend innocent civilians and instate a durable cease-fire with the demilitarization of Gaza."

The Chilean foreign ministry in Santiago said it was calling back its ambassador, Jorge Montero, because of "the escalation of Israeli military operations in Gaza."

"Chile notes with great concern and dismay that such military operations, which at this stage of development are subject to a collective punishment against the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza, do not respect fundamental rules of international humanitarian law."

The Chilean foreign ministry noted that more than 1,000 Palestinians, including civilians, have been killed during Operation Protective Edge, which was in its 23rd day Wedneday.

The statement condemned rocket fire by Hamas against civilians in Israel, but said "the scale and intensity of Israeli operations in Gaza violate the principle of proportionality in the use of force, an essential requirement to justify self-defense." The statement also called "for an immediate end of hostilities" in Gaza.

In Lima, the Peruvian foreign ministry published a similar statement condemning Israel's operation in Gaza.