The top diplomat said Israel’s retaliation for Hamas attacks had become “collective punishment” for the Palestinians.
The South African government said it would recall all diplomats from Israel to “signal” its concern about the situation in Gaza.
Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, a minister in the Office of the President, said on Monday that all diplomatic staff in Tel Aviv would be summoned back to Pretoria for consultations, without providing further details.
“We are deeply concerned about the continued killing of children and innocent civilians in the Palestinian territories and believe that the nature of Israel’s response has become tantamount to collective punishment,” Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said in a subsequent press conference.
“We felt it was important to note South Africa’s concern as we continue to call for a comprehensive moratorium [of hostilities]”.
Fighting has raged in the Gaza Strip for a month since Hamas fighters launched an unprecedented cross-border attack on Israel on October 7.
More than 1,400 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Israel since the attack, during which Hamas took more than 240 people hostage.
In response, Israel relentlessly bombed Gaza and sent ground troops. The Hamas-run Ministry of Health in the Palestinian Territories says nearly 10,000 people have been killed. Most of the victims were civilians, including several thousand children.
Pretoria has long been a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, with the ruling African National Congress often linking that issue to its past struggle against apartheid.
Pandor said summoning diplomats is a “normal practice,” adding that envoys will provide a “full briefing” on the situation to the government, which will then decide whether assistance can be provided or whether “the ongoing relationship is actually able to improve the situation.” be sustainable.”
Several countries have recalled their diplomats from Israel as global criticism grows over its ongoing bombing of Gaza.
NATO member Turkey did so on Saturday, joining Islamic countries such as Jordan and Bahrain. Many South American countries also severed their relations after Bolivia, which at the beginning of November became the first country to sever diplomatic relations with Israel due to its “disproportionate” attacks in Gaza.
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