The move reflects South Africa's longstanding support for the Palestinian cause, with historical ties between the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and its struggle against apartheid.
South African Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni revealed on Nov. 6 that all diplomatic staff currently stationed in Tel Aviv would be summoned to return to Pretoria for consultations. While no further details were provided, this action is standard diplomatic procedure for evaluating the situation and considering the future of diplomatic relations.
South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor meanwhile emphasized the government's unease about the continued loss of innocent lives, particularly children, in the Palestinian territories. She expressed concerns that the nature of Israel's response to the conflict seemed to involve collective punishment.
At a later press conference, Pandor underlined the importance of signaling South Africa's apprehension while continuing to call for a comprehensive cessation of hostilities. The recall of the diplomats was "normal practice," according to Pandor, adding the envoys would give a "full briefing" on the situation to the government, which would then decide whether it could be of assistance or if a "continued relationship is actually able to be sustained."
In a separate statement, Ntshavheni said: "[The] cabinet has also noted the continuing disparaging remarks of the Israeli ambassador to South Africa about those who are opposing the atrocities and genocide of the Israeli regime. A genocide under the watch of the international community cannot be tolerated."
She continued that if the U.S. does not step in to prevent Israel's further bombardment of Palestinian territory, it will mean everybody will take matters into their own hands and do as they please.
“The failure of the international community to hold Israel to account and… to stop the impunity and the genocidal acts that the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinian people will mean a total collapse of a multinational system."
On Nov. 4, the Central African nation of Chad also recalled its charge d'affaires to Tel Aviv. According to the website of the Chadian presidency, the decision was made in "indignation" at the regime's relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
The two nations are the only African countries to recall their diplomats from Tel Aviv.
The recent violence in the Gaza Strip has persisted for a month, starting when Hamas fighters initiated an unprecedented attack on Israel on Oct. 7. In the ensuing conflict, over 1,400 individuals, predominantly civilians, lost their lives in Israel. During this time, Hamas also took more than 240 people hostage.
In response, Israel conducted extensive military operations in Gaza, deploying ground troops as part of its actions. According to the health ministry in Gaza, close to 10,000 people have been killed, with the majority being civilians, including several thousand children.
Several other countries have chosen to recall their diplomats from Israel as a result of global criticism of Israel's ongoing military operations in Gaza. Turkey took this action recently, joining other Muslim-majority states such as Jordan and Bahrain. (Related: Turkey’s Erdogan warns of “spiral of violence” in phone call with Israel’s Herzog.)
Additionally, several South American nations have severed ties with Israel, following in the footsteps of Bolivia. La Paz became the first to to cut diplomatic relations with Israel in early November, citing Israel's "disproportionate" attacks in Gaza as the reason for its decision.
Visit Chaos.news for more stories about the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
Watch this Russia Today report about Bolivia severing diplomatic relations with Israel.
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