Venezuela withdraws ambassador to Israel in protest against attacks


Venezuela has recalled its ambassador to Israel in protest against the Jewish state's military actions in Gaza and Lebanon, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Thursday.

"I have ordered the withdrawal of our ambassador in Israel" to show "our indignation at seeing how the state of Israel continues ... bombarding, killing, quartering," Chavez said in a speech.

Chavez, president of the world's fifth largest oil exporter, has been a sharp critic of the U.S. government and has frequently expresses support for the Palestinian people.

The Venezuelan response came after Israeli forces launched attacks in Lebanon on July 12 to free two soldiers captured by the Lebanon-based guerrilla group Hezbollah. The attacks have killed over 900 people, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said Thursday.

Israel also launched an offensive in the Gaza Strip to free another kidnapped soldier and halt rocket attacks from Palestinian militants.