The South African government on Monday withdrew its ambassador to Israel in protest of the deadly violence along the Israel-Gaza border.
“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 Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement quoted by the Times Live news website.
The Department claimed the victims were taking part in a “peaceful protest” against what it called the “provocative inauguration” of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
“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‚” the statement said.
The department said it maintained its stance that the IDF should “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 the statement.
It said the government also joined the chorus of United Nations’ member states calling for an independent inquiry into the killings‚ with a view to holding to account those who were responsible.
The statement came after the Hamas terrorist organization led violent and mass terrorist acts throughout the day on Monday, in protest against the inauguration of the new United States embassy in Jerusalem.
The riots, dubbed the “March of the Return”, have been going since March 30. The mass-demonstrations kicked off six weeks of violent clashes along the Israel-Gaza border, culminating in a massive “Nakba Day” procession.
Hamas leaders have called on the rioters to break through Israel’s security fence along the Gaza border and infiltrate into Israeli territory en masse.
Anti-Israel sentiments remain prevalent in South Africa, where the ruling the African National Congress (ANC) party recently called for the downgrading of the South African Embassy in Israel due to what it said was the “lack of commitment from Israel on Palestine.”
The government in South Africa has frequently accused Israel of applying a policy of “apartheid” towards Palestinian Arabs. One such example was when the ANC party proposed new rules regarding dual citizenship meant to stop South African citizens from joining the IDF.
In another example, the county’s Foreign Minister slammed Israel's plans to build new homes in Jerusalem, saying she was “losing sleep” over the size of “Palestine”.
More recently, South Africa's Sports Minister boycotted a Davis Cup tennis match against Israel, citing "Israeli discrimination and occupation.".