Gaza War Was Genocide: Chavez
Israel started war to 'exterminate the Palestinians'
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2009 11:39 AM CDT
President Hugo Chavez, left, shakes hands with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a meeting at the presidential palace in Tehran, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip earlier this year was perpetrated for the express purpose of killing Palestinians, says Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the Guardian reports. “The question is not whether the Israelis want to exterminate the Palestinians. They're doing it openly. What was it, if not genocide?” asked Chavez after a tour of the Middle East. “The Israelis were looking for an excuse to exterminate the Palestinians.”

Human rights groups have said both sides of the conflict may have committed wars crimes and should be investigated. The Israeli military says 1,166 Palestinians were killed; an Israeli human rights group today put the number at 1,387.