Venezuela, Bolivia Cut Israel Ties for Gaza

Appalled by scenes of slain Palestinian children and women in the Gaza Strip, Venezuela and Bolivia have severed diplomatic relations with Israel.

"The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in accordance with its vision of world peace, in solidarity and respect for human rights, has decided to definitively break diplomatic ties with Israel," the government said in a statement.

Caracas linked the decision to the "cruel persecution of the Palestinian people directed by Israeli authorities."

Earlier this month, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expelled the Israeli ambassador, branding the ongoing onslaught, which killed more than 1095 people, nearly half of them civilians, a "holocaust".

Venezuela’s latest decision came just a few hours after Bolivian President Evo Morales severed diplomatic relations with Israel.

"Considering these grave attacks against…humanity, Bolivia will stop having diplomatic relations with Israel," he told diplomats in the government palace.

An Israeli shell hit main UN compound in Gaza, wounding three employees, setting fire to a warehouse filled with tones of aid and leading the UNRWA to suspend operations.

An UNRWA spokesman said tens of millions of dollars worth of humanitarian aid had been destroyed in the blaze.

In southwestern Gaza, an Israeli strike hit the Al-Quds Hospital in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood, leaving staff and patients trapped by Israeli fire in the neighborhood and part of the building was destroyed.

The Foreign Press Association on Thursday urged its members to boycott Israeli army photos and video footage to protest the shelling of a media building in Gaza City.

The two cameramen, who worked for Abu Dhabi television, were wounded when an Israeli strike hit a building in Gaza City housing several international and Arab media outlets, including Reuters Fox, Sky and Al-Arabiya.

State Terrorism

The Latin American heavyweights termed the deadly Israeli attacks as a state terrorism.

"[Israeli] repugnant attack on the civilian population is a perfect example of Israel’s repeated use of state terrorism…(against) the weak and innocent: children, women and the elderly," the Venezuelan government said.

"[It’s] a human catastrophe that is unraveling before the eyes of the entire world," it added.

"Israel has ignored, systematically, calls from the UN, violating in a repeated and shameless manner the resolutions approved by the overwhelming majority of their members and placing themselves ever more on the margin of international law."

Bolivia’s Morales describe the Israeli onslaught as a "genocide," asserting that Israeli leaders must be brought to justice.

"(Shimon) Perez must also be charged…since he has done nothing to stop the criminal behavior of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his government but, on the contrary, has justified the criminal actions against the Palestinians in Gaza."

The Bolivian leader called for stripping the Israeli president from his 1994 Nobel Peace prize over the Gaza atrocities.

Peres, then Israeli foreign minister, shared the prestigious prize with late Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

An internet petition has been launched by Bahraini writers calling for stripping Peres from the peace prize.

"The crimes committed by the Israeli government affect peace and stability in the world," stressed Morales.
( and Agencies)

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