South Africa has recalled its entire diplomatic mission from Tel Aviv in protest of the Israeli war on Gaza, which it described as a “genocide” against the Palestinian people.
Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, a minister in the president’s office, told a press briefing that all diplomatic staff in Tel Aviv would be asked back to Pretoria for consultations, without providing further details.
“We are… extremely concerned at the continued killing of children and innocent civilians in the Palestinian territories and we believe the nature of response by Israel has become one of collective punishment,” Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor told a later press conference.
“We felt it important that we do signal the concern of South Africa while continuing to call for a comprehensive cessation (of hostilities)”.
The South African government announced the decision on Monday, saying that it was deeply concerned by use of force by the Israeli occupation in Gaza, which has killed more than 10,000 Palestinian civilians, mostly children and women, in the past 31 days.
The Israeli military offensive in Gaza, which commenced on October 7, 2023, following an attack by Hamas in response to ongoing Israeli actions in the West Bank and Jerusalem, has garnered extensive global criticism and protests. Many have called for a ceasefire and a diplomatic resolution to the conflict
According to a Palestinian health spokesperson, 70% of the casualties brought to hospitals in Gaza due to Israeli airstrikes are children.
The spokesperson also warned of a humanitarian crisis in the besieged enclave, where medical supplies, fuel, water and electricity are running low, and where the health system is on the verge of collapse.
The United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League and several other countries and organizations have urged the Israeli occupation to stop its attacks on Gaza and respect international law and human rights.