SA pulls ambassador out of Israel over Gaza violence

South Africa has taken a strong stance against the killing of 41 Palestinians by Israeli armed forces by pulling the SA ambassador out of Israel.

“Given the indiscriminate and gravity of the latest Israeli attack, the South African government has taken a decision to recall Ambassador Sisa Ngombane with immediate effect until further notice,” Department of International Relations spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said on Monday.

Mabaya said the attack also resulted in scores of Palestinian citizens being injured.

He said government condemned “in the strongest terms possible the latest act of violent aggression carried out by Israeli armed forces along the Gaza border”.

“[This] led to the deaths of over 40 [people] killed following a peaceful protest against the provocative inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem,” he said.

Mabaya said South Africa 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.”

Mabaya said government reiterates calls made by several member states of the United Nations calling for an independent inquiry into the killings, with a view to holding to account those who are responsible.

Monday marked the deadliest day of violence since the 2014 cross border war. 

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the SA Zionist Federation issued a statement on Monday, saying the government’s decision to withdraw the SA ambassador smacked of gross double-standards against the Jewish state. 

It said while it regretted the loss of civilian life, it recognised that Israel had the right to protect itself and its borders. 

“By withdrawing its Ambassador, South Africa is essentially walking away from playing any meaningful role in finding a sorely needed resolution to the conflict.  The rhetoric used by the government has already has spilled into anti-semitic comment on various social media platforms and the biggest losers are the South African Jewish community, and other peace loving South Africans”, read the statement. 

The SAJBD and the SAZF called on the government to reconsider its decision immediately. 

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