Israel on Wednesday expressed “deep disappointment” over El Salvador, Peru and Chile’s decision a day earlier to recall their ambassadors for consultations in protest against the military operation in the Gaza Strip.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor issued a statement saying that the move “constitutes encouragement for Hamas, a group recognized as a terror organization by many countries around the world.”

Israel expected countries who oppose terrorism to “act responsibly and not to hand terrorists a prize,” Palmor said.

“So far, every time Israel accepted plans for establishing a cease-fire and restoring calm, it was countered by Hamas’s sustained rocket fire,” he said.

The three Latin American countries “would have been much better advised to promote the international move intended to assist Israel in its efforts to defend innocent civilians and instate a durable cease-fire with the demilitarization of Gaza,” he added.

The move by the three countries follows last week’s decision by Brazil and Ecuador to do the same.

On Tuesday, four of the five members of the Mercosur trade bloc, made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela, issued a statement condemning Israel during a summit in Caracas for “disproportionate use of force.”

Paraguay did not sign the statement.

David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee that is active in Latin America, said that it was astonishing that the Mercosur statement did not even mention Hamas.

Harris said “the notion that Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay would issue a joint statement with Venezuela voicing concern about human rights anywhere would be laughable, if it weren’t so terribly tragic. Caracas has been one of the main defenders of Syrian President [Bashar] Assad, who is responsible for some 170,000 deaths and millions of refugees, and is a staunch ally of Iran, the principal state sponsor of terrorism in the world, including at least two deadly attacks in Argentina in 1992 and 1994.

Shame!” During Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and January 2009, Bolivia cut ties with Israel and Mauritania, the only Arab country besides Jordan and Egypt that had full diplomatic relations with Israel, recalled its envoy for consultations, a prelude to that country later breaking off ties.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger