A day after Bolivia severed diplomatic relations with Israel, Hugo Chavez's Venezuela followed suit on Thursday and announced it was severing ties to protest the military operation in the Gaza Strip. Venezuela "has decided to break off diplomatic relations with the State of Israel given the inhumane persecution of the Palestinian people," the foreign ministry said in a statement issued Wednesday, Venezuela time. Jerusalem had no formal response, and Venezuela's chargÃ© d'affaires was summoned to the Foreign Ministry for talks. The move followed the South American nation's expulsion of the Israeli ambassador by a week. Earlier this week, Israel received messages from Caracas that the Venezuelans weren't interested in completely severing ties, and the move may have been impacted by Bolivia's decision. Israel's relations with Venezuela have, over the past five years, been limited primarily to the non-governmental sector and the Jewish community. There are some 15,000 Jews in the country, which is widely believed to be one of the reasons Israel did not sever ties after the expulsion of its ambassador. Venezuela and Bolivia, which have ties with Iran, are part of a radical South American axis that also includes Nicaragua and Ecuador.