South Africa has decided to boycott Israel, joining other nations in withdrawing their diplomatic representatives from the country due to increasing concerns. In response to the ongoing conflict in Gaza, the South African government has decided to recall all diplomats from Israel.
The move is aimed at signaling the country’s concern over the situation in the Palestinian territories. Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, a minister in the president’s office, announced that all diplomatic staff in Tel Aviv would be called back to Pretoria for consultations. While further details were not provided, the decision underscores South Africa’s strong stance on the Gaza issue.
Concerns Over Civilian Casualties
South Africa’s Foreign Minister, Naledi Pandor, expressed deep concern over the situation, particularly the loss of innocent lives. She 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.” The government’s move to recall diplomats is intended to convey this concern while also continuing to advocate for a comprehensive cessation of hostilities.
The conflict in Gaza has been ongoing for a month, sparked by an unprecedented attack by Hamas fighters on Israel on October 7. Tragically, more than 1,400 people, the majority of whom are civilians, have lost their lives in Israel during the conflict. Hamas took over 240 people hostage during their attack. In retaliation, Israel has launched a relentless bombardment of Gaza and deployed ground troops. The health ministry in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory reports that nearly 10,000 people have been killed, with the majority being civilians, including thousands of children.
South Africa has a long history of supporting the Palestinian cause, with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party often drawing parallels between the struggle against apartheid and the Palestinian situation. Foreign Minister Pandor emphasized that the recall of diplomats is a “normal practice.” The envoys will provide a “full briefing” on the situation to the government, which will then decide whether South Africa can offer assistance or if it can maintain a continued relationship with Israel.
Growing International Criticism
South Africa’s decision to recall its diplomats is part of a wider international response to the situation in Gaza. Other countries, including NATO member Turkey, Jordan, Bahrain, and several South American nations, have also recalled diplomats from Israel. Bolivia, in early November, became the first nation to sever diplomatic ties with Israel, citing the “disproportionate” attacks in Gaza. As global criticism of Israel’s actions in Gaza intensifies, these diplomatic actions demonstrate the growing international concern over the conflict.