Sunday, August 6, 2006

Chavez accuses Israel of 'new Holocaust'

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

 photo
 In this picture released by the Miraflores Press Office Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez speaks during his Sunday TV and radio program "Alo Presidente" in Bolivar City, some 400 miles southeast of Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2006. President Chavez said his close friend Fidel Castro has been recuperating well after intestinal surgery, and said he hoped to see the Cuban leader again soon. (AP Photo/HO Miraflores Press)

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday renewed his criticism of Israel's military offensive in Lebanon, calling it a "new Holocaust."

Chavez's comments in his weekly radio and TV broadcast came three days after he said he was recalling Venezuela's top diplomat to Israel to express his government's indignation over Israeli attacks in Lebanon and its actions toward Palestinians.

"Israel has gone mad," Chavez said.

"They are massacring children, and no one knows how many are buried," he added, accusing Israel of being guilty of a "new Holocaust" and the "terrorist" U.S. government of complicity.

Israel's Foreign Ministry rebuffed Chavez's statements on Monday.

"Unfortunately, he (Chavez) is not known for his objectivity when it comes to the Middle East conflict," said ministry spokesman Mark Regev. "He has embraced the regional leaders who have called for the destruction of the Jewish state and I think there is a serious question as to his judgment when it comes to Middle East issues."

Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have pledged to support one another in disputes with Washington. Ahmadinejad has drawn international condemnation with calls for Israel to be wiped off the map.

Israel said Friday it was concerned over the recall of Venezuela's charge d'affaires in Israel, but had not yet decided how to respond.

Chavez has previously called the Israeli military campaign "terrorism and fascism," and said last month that U.S. backing of Israel was putting the world on course toward another "Holocaust."