Chavez: Colombia has become the Israel of Latin America By The Associated Press Tags: Iran, Hugo Chavez, Israel Venezeuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered tanks and thousands of troops on Sunday to the border with Colombia, accusing it of pushing South America to the brink of war and likening it to Israel for its U.S.-backed attacks on militants. Chavez called Colombian President Alvaro Uribe a criminal and branded his government a terrorist state, over the killing of a top rebel leader on Ecuadorean soil. "The Colombian government has become the Israel of Latin America," an agitated Chavez said, reiterating his criticism of the Israel Defense Forces' strikes on Palestinian militants. "We aren't going to permit Colombia to become the Israel of these lands. ... Uribe, we aren't going to permit you." Denouncing Colombia's slaying of the rebel commander in a cross-border raid into Ecuador, Chavez said Venezuela would respond militarily if Colombia violates its border. He ordered Venezuela's embassy in Bogota closed. "We don't want war, but we aren't going to permit the U.S. empire, which is the master [of Colombia] ... to come divide us," Chavez said on his weekly TV and radio program. In protest, Ecuador withdrew its ambassador from Bogota, ordered Colombia's top diplomat expelled and ordered the mobilization of troops to the border with Colombia. Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, said Colombia deliberately carried out the strike beyond its borders. There is no justification, Correa said Sunday night, snubbing an earlier annoucement from Colombia that it would apologize for the incursion. Correa said the rebels were bombed and massacred as they slept, using precision technology. He said Colombia violated Ecuador's airspace when it bombed the rebel camp, which the Colombian military said was located 1.8 kilometers from the border. Colombian officials have long complained that Ecuador's military does not control its sparsely populated border, allowing rebels to take refuge. In a statement, Colombia said FARC terrorists including Reyes have had the custom of killing in Colombia and taking refuge in the territory of neighboring countries. The situation pushed already tense relations between Venezuela and Colombia to a new nadir, though cross-border trade has not yet been seriously affected. Chavez did not specify how many troops was sending to the border. Chavez, who has friendly diplomatic ties with Syria and Iran, said last year during a visit to Damascus that his goal was to "build a new world" free of U.S. domination. Israel is considering downgrading its relations with Venezuela in light of the extremist anti-Israel line taken by the country's government under President Hugo Chavez. Israel is concerned about the growing alliance between Chavez and his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. A highly-placed source in Jerusalem says only preliminary talks have been held on the issue and no decision has been made.