AFP - Venezuela on Wednesday broke diplomatic ties with Israel over its deadly military offensive in the Gaza Strip, according to a government statement read on public television.
"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 text said.
Caracas said it made its decision due to the "cruel persecution of the Palestinian people, directed by Israeli authorities."
Venezuela's decision came just hours after Bolivia announced it was breaking diplomatic relations with Israel, also for the same reason.
Bolivian President Evo Morales, a socialist, is a close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez who on January 6 expelled Israel's ambassador from Caracas, winning him hero status among Palestinians.
Most Latin American governments have been critical of Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip, in retaliation for Hamas rocket attacks on its territory.
The military incursion which began December 27 has killed more than 1,000 people, most of them Palestinians, despite hopes of a truce.