Israel Expels Venezuela Envoys, Cuts Ties With Caracas

Move comes days after Chavez orders Israeli diplomats out of Caracas in protest of Gaza offensive.

Israel on Wednesday expelled all diplomatic staff from the Venezuelan embassy, just days after President Hugo Chavez ordered Jerusalem's envoys out of Caracas in protest of Israel's recent offensive in Gaza.

The move effectively cut off what remained of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Earlier in the week, the foreign ministry notified junior diplomats representing Venezuela in Israel that they were to depart the country within 72 hours.

Last week, Chavez announced his country would permanently end ties with Israel over Israel's recent offensive against Hamas in Gaza.

"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 operation. The move came just hours after Chavez called the offensive a "holocaust."