South Africa has withdrawn its ambassador to Israel following deadly protests on the Gaza border that saw dozens of Palestinians killed by Israeli troops, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said on Monday.
Earlier, reports emerged that Israeli forces had killed 52 Palestinians on the Gaza border in the conflict’s bloodiest day in years as clashes and protests coincided with the deeply controversial opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
The clashes, which left more than 2,400 Palestinians wounded, erupted before a White House delegation and Israeli officials opened the embassy at an inauguration ceremony in Jerusalem and continued throughout the day.
It was the bloodiest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since a 2014 Gaza war.
Dirco in a statement condemned the “latest act of violent aggression” carried out by Israeli troops.
“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.
“The victims were taking part in a peaceful protest against the provocative inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem. This latest attack has resulted in scores of other Palestinian citizens reported injured, and the wanton destruction of property”.
The department further added that: “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”.
Dirco reiterated its view that the Israeli Defence Force must withdraw from the Gaza Strip “and bring to an end the violent and destructive incursions into Palestinian territories”.
South Africa maintains further that the violence in the Gaza Strip will stand in the way of rebuilding Palestinian institutions and infrastructure.
“The routine actions of the Israeli armed forces present yet another obstacle to a permanent resolution to the conflict, which must come in the form of two states, Palestine and Israel, existing side-by-side and in peace,” said Dirco.
“Like other members of the international community, South Africa is disturbed by the latest deadly aggression and reiterates calls made by several member states of the United Nations for an independent inquiry into the killings, with a view to holding to account those who are responsible.”