JERUSALEM – Israel has recalled its ambassador to South Africa, Eli Belotserkovsky, for consultations in response to a series of highly critical comments and actions by the South African government over Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.
South Africa has repeatedly condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza, describing them as “genocide” and urging the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
On Monday, South African Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said the government expected the ICC to issue an arrest warrant against Netanyahu by mid-December. “The world cannot simply stand by and watch. The global community needs to rise to stop this genocide now,” said Ntshavheni.
South Africa’s ambassador to The Hague in the Netherlands had filed a referral to the ICC last week, together with the Comoros, Djibouti, Bolivia, and Bangladesh, asking the court to investigate “the commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide” against Israel.
Israel has defended its actions in Gaza, saying they are necessary to stop Hamas from firing rockets into its territory. The Israeli military says it has taken steps to minimize civilian casualties, but the Palestinian Ministry of Health says more than 13,000 people have been killed in the conflict, including women and children.
The recall of the Israeli ambassador is the latest sign of the deteriorating relationship between Israel and South Africa. South Africa has long been a supporter of the Palestinians, and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) has sought to link its struggle against the apartheid regime in South Africa to the demands of the Palestinians for an independent state.