In a bold move aimed at signaling its deep concern over the ongoing conflict in Gaza, the South African government announced on Monday that it would recall all its diplomats from Israel.
This decision was made amidst growing international tensions surrounding the conflict that has gripped the Gaza Strip for approximately a month.
Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, a minister in the president’s office, made the announcement during a press briefing held in Pretoria. While she did not provide elaborate details, Ntshavheni affirmed that all diplomatic staff stationed in Tel Aviv would be summoned back to South Africa for consultations. This recall of diplomats is a clear demonstration of South Africa’s dismay over the situation in Gaza.
Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor later held a press conference in which she expressed the government’s deep concerns about the ongoing crisis. Minister Pandor stated, “We are extremely concerned at the continued killing of children and innocent civilians in the Palestinian territories, and we believe the nature of the response by Israel has become one of collective punishment.”
She went on to add, “We felt it important that we do signal the concern of South Africa while continuing to call for a comprehensive cessation of hostilities.”
The conflict in Gaza erupted after Hamas militants launched an unprecedented attack on October 7, 2023, crossing the border into Israel. Since then, fighting has persisted, resulting in a devastating toll on both sides.
According to official reports, more than 1,400 people, the majority of whom are civilians, have lost their lives in Israel, with Hamas taking over 240 people hostage during their initial attack.
In response to these developments, Israel has conducted relentless airstrikes and sent ground troops into Gaza. The health ministry in Gaza, which is under the control of Hamas, has reported that over 9,700 people have been killed, with the majority being civilians.
Minister Pandor emphasized that recalling diplomats is considered “normal practice” in diplomatic relations. She noted that the envoys would provide a “full briefing” on the situation to the government, which will then decide whether it can offer assistance or if a “continued relationship is actually able to be sustained.”
This move by South Africa further highlights the international community’s concern over the situation in Gaza and calls for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict.