Foreign minister says diplomats will give full briefing to government so that Pretoria can decide if existing relations can be sustained
South Africa announced Monday it is withdrawing all its diplomats from Tel Aviv for consultation over Israel’s war on Gaza.
“A genocide under the watch of the international community cannot be tolerated. Another holocaust in the history of human kind is not acceptable,” Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, a minister in the president’s office, told reporters.
Ntshavheni also said the Cabinet has instructed the Foreign Ministry to take necessary measures via diplomacy to deal with the conduct of the Israel ambassador to South Africa, Eliav Belotserkovsky, whose conduct, she said, is becoming very untenable.
Belotserkovsky is accused of making disparaging comments against those who raise voices against attacks on Palestinians.
Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor told a media briefing late Monday that South Africa is very concerned at the ongoing killing of children and innocent civilians in the Palestinian territories.
Pandor said her ministry will get a full briefing from diplomats recalled from Tel Aviv so they can decide if the existing relations between the two countries can be sustained.
Pretoria has been vocal against Israeli attacks on Gaza and its occupation of Palestinian territories in general. Last week, it called on the UN to deploy a rapid protection force to protect the civilian population in Gaza from further bombardment by Israel.
“All countries genuinely committed to a rules-based system underpinned by international law must act immediately,” South Africa’s Foreign Ministry said in a strongly worded statement.
Pretoria also called on the global community to hold Israel accountable for breaches of international law and also decried the number of children killed in the conflict so far.
South Africans have held over a dozen protests since the recent Israel-Palestine conflict started on Oct 7. Activists have been calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Pretoria and a recall of South African diplomats from Tel Aviv.
Israel has launched air and ground raids on the Gaza Strip following a cross-border attack by Palestinian resistance group Hamas on Oct. 7.
Israeli bombardments in the Gaza Strip have killed at least 10,022 Palestinians, including 4,104 children and 2,641 women. The Israeli death toll is nearly 1,600, according to official figures.
Besides the large number of casualties and massive displacements due to the Israeli siege of the region, basic supplies are also running low for Gaza’s 2.3 million residents.