United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has criticized a new verbal attack on Israel by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mr. Ban says it is "unacceptable" for Mr. Ahmadinejad to make inflammatory comments about another U.N. member state.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described Israel Wednesday as a "dirty microbe" and a "wild animal" created by Western powers to help them dominate the Middle East. He was speaking at a rally in southern Iran.

Israel's U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman met Mr. Ban Wednesday to protest the Iranian leader's remarks, calling them "Nazi-like."

Iranian officials have sharpened their verbal attacks on Israel since a senior leader of the Hezbollah militant group was assassinated in Syria last week. Tehran blames Israel for the killing, a charge Israel denies.

A car bomb killed top Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus on February 12.

Iran is a chief backer of Hezbollah, but denies allegations in the West that it provides military support to the Shi'ite militant group.

Yahya Rahim Safavi, an adviser to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Thursday that Mughniyeh's assassination will speed up the "death" of Israel at the hands of Hezbollah.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev says that Iranian officials' use of what he called "hateful language" runs counter to Iran's rich traditions. He says the Tehran government is dangerous and a threat to global security.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban says it is in the interests of all U.N. members to pay due respect to each other, even when addressing differences.