In a televised speech on Thursday, he called the Israeli attacks "genocide".

He said: "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 has repeatedly criticised the Israeli offensive.

He said: "It's hard to explain to oneself how nobody does anything to stop this horror."

His government has until recently said it had good relations with Israel.

During a recent visit to Iran, Chavez called Israeli attacks on Lebanon a "fascist outrage".

He said: "The Israeli elite repeatedly criticise Hitler's actions against the Jews, and indeed Hitler's actions must be criticised, not just against the Jews but against the world. It's also fascism what Israel is doing to the Palestinian people ... terrorism and fascism."

Venezuela has both Arab immigrant and Jewish communities and Venezuelan officials have insisted that the government will continue to fully respect the Jewish community despite its strong opposition to Israel's war in Lebanon.