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South Africa Accuses Israel of Genocide in Gaza, Recalls All Diplomats

South Africa’s government has recalled Monday its  diplomatic mission to Israel in condemnation of the bombardment of the Gaza Strip, calling it a “genocide.”

The government also threatened action against the Israeli ambassador to South Africa over his recent remarks on the African country’s stance on the Israel-Hamas war. No further details were given about the remarks.

The war broke out after the Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked Israel on Oct.7, leaving over 1,400 people dead. More than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

“The South African government has decided to withdraw all its diplomats in Tel Aviv for consultation,” said minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni. She added the cabinet noted the “disparaging remarks of the Israeli ambassador to South Africa about those who are opposing the atrocities and genocide of the Israeli government” and that the department of international relations has been instructed to “take the necessary measures within the diplomatic channels and protocols to deal with (his) conduct.”

Ntshavheni also said the position of the Israeli ambassador in the country was “untenable.”

Pro-Palestinian protesters – who have been staging demonstrations by the U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg and Israeli embassies in Pretoria and Cape Town – have called on the South African government to expel the Israeli ambassador.

International relations minister Naledi Pandor, who on Monday hosted her Ukraine counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, said the South African officials would be recalled from Tel Aviv to give the government a detailed briefing about the situation in the region.

“We need to have this engagement with our officials because we are extremely concerned at the continued killing of children and innocent civilians in the Palestinian territory and we believe the nature of response by Israel has become one of collective punishment,” said Pandor.

Some ambassadors “say what they like”

Earlier, Ntshavheni accused Israeli ambassador Eliav Belotserkovsky, of making derogatory comments about South Africans, including members of government, “who are speaking against the holocaust being committed by the Israeli government”.

The foreign ministry had been instructed “to convey the South African government displeasure with the ambassador” through diplomatic channels, she said.

“We felt it important that we should call the ambassador in,” added Pandor.

“There seems to be a strange practice among some ambassadors in South Africa, that they can just say what they like… I don’t know if it’s because it’s an African country and they disrespect us but it’s something that we should not tolerate,” she said.

Earlier this year, US ambassador Reuben Brigety, claimed that South Africa had provided weapons to Russia through the Russian ship Lady R, which docked at the Simon’s Town naval base, in Cape Town (southwest), in December last year.

An independent inquiry later revealed that “no evidence that any cargo of weapons was loaded for export onto the ship Lady R. The panel found that there was no evidence to support the claim that the ship transported weapons from South Africa destined for Russia.”

 in the aftermath of the accusations and appointed retired judge Phineas Mojapelo as chair of that panel.

Numerous pro-Palestinian protests have taken place across South Africa over the past month. 

Pandor said she had discussed the strengthening of bilateral ties with her Ukraine counterpart, including meetings held by at least seven African leaders who visited Moscow and Kyiv earlier this year to propose a peace plan.

“We are one of the few countries around the regions of the world that are able to speak to both Ukraine, as well as Russia.”

The South African government, led by the ruling African National Congress party which has close ties to Palestine, has called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and for aid to be allowed into the bombarded enclave.

South Africa recall its ambassador to Israel some years ago following a deadly crackdown on Palestinian protesters by Israel forces.

More recently, countries including Chile, Colombia Honduras, recalled their ambassador to Israel to protest the military operations in Gaza. Bolivia severed diplomatic ties with the country.

Source: Africanews