updated 8/3/2006 10:19:54 PM ET 2006-08-04T02:19:54

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Thursday he has withdrawn his country’s ambassador from Israel to show his “indignation” over the military offensive in Lebanon.

“We have ordered the withdrawal of our ambassador in Israel,” Chavez said in a televised speech, calling Israeli attacks in Lebanon “genocide.”

The leftist leader has repeatedly criticized 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 really causes indignation to see how the state of Israel continues bombing, killing ... with all of the power they have, with the support of the United States,” Chavez said after a military parade in the northwestern state of Falcon.

The Venezuelan leader, a close ally and protege of Cuban President Fidel Castro, spoke after returning from an international tour that included Iran. While there, Chavez called the Israeli offensive in Lebanon a “fascist outrage.”

“The Israeli elite repeatedly criticize Hitler’s actions against the Jews, and indeed Hitler’s actions must be criticized, not just against the Jews but against the world,” Chavez said during his visit to Iran, adding: “It’s also fascism what Israel is doing to the Palestinian people ... terrorism and fascism.”

Some in Venezuela have protested against the fighting in Lebanon, including one group that burned an Israeli flag outside the Israeli embassy last month.

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