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Venezuela recalls ambassador to Israel

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he has withdrawn his country's ambassador to Israel to show his "indignation" over the military offensive in Lebanon.

india Updated: Aug 04, 2006 13:06 IST

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he has withdrawn his country's ambassador to Israel to show his "indignation" over the military offensive in Lebanon.

"I have ordered the withdrawal of our ambassador in Israel," Chavez said on Thursday in a televised speech, calling the Israeli attacks in Lebanon "genocide".

"It really causes indignation to see how the state of Israel continues bombing, killing ... With gringo planes, with all of the power they have, with the support of the United States -- so many innocents, children, women," Chavez said after a military parade in the northwestern state of Falcon.

The leftist Venezuelan leader has repeatedly criticised Israel's offensive aimed at Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon, noting mounting civilian deaths and saying the United Nations should act to halt the violence.

"It's hard explain to oneself how nobody does anything to stop this horror," said Chavez, whose government until recently said it had good relations with Israel.

While Venezuela apparently will maintain diplomatic relations with Israel, the ambassador's recall is one of the strongest possible protests short of severing ties.

Chavez has similarly called home ambassadors from Mexico and Peru in the past year after he exchanged insults with their leaders.

Chavez, a perennial critic of Washington, also criticised what he called a relentless "immoral campaign" by the US government to keep Venezuela from obtaining a seat on the UN Security Council.