South Africa is recalling its ambassador to Israel “until further notice,” in protest of the deaths of dozens of Palestinians in clashes with Israeli forces on the Gaza border on Monday.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed that Pretoria was summoning its ambassador home for consultations.
“The South African government condemns in the strongest terms possible the latest act of violent aggression carried out by Israeli armed forces along the Gaza border‚ which has led to the deaths of over 40 civilians‚” a statement from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) says.
“Given the indiscriminate and grave manner of the latest Israeli attack‚ the South African government has taken a decision to recall Ambassador Sisa Ngombane with immediate effect until further notice‚” it says.
South Africa also called on Israel to “withdraw from the Gaza Strip and bring to an end the violent and destructive incursions into Palestinian territories.”
The statement appeared to betray ignorance of the fact that Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza and dismantled all Jewish communities there in 2005, in a vain gesture of peace. Hamas has ever since used the area as a staging area for rocket attacks and terrorist infiltrations. The Israeli military response on Monday was aimed strictly at maintaining security of its border, not occupying Gaza.
Also on Monday, Saudi Arabia condemned Israel for the high number of Palestinian casualties, but without mentioning the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Yerushalayim.
“Saudi Arabia strongly condemns the Israeli occupation forces’ gunfire against unarmed Palestinian civilians which has left dozens of dead and wounded,” a Saudi foreign ministry spokesperson said.