Gaza violence strains SA-Israel diplomatic relations

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Colleta Dewa in Johannesburg 

The government of South Africa has recalled its ambassador to Israel following the killing of over 50 unarmed civilians in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli armed forces on Monday.

According to SA's Department of International Relations and Cooperation, the move is meant to send a clear message to Israel that South Africa condemns Israel's occupation of Gaza.

"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. 

"As we have stated on previous occasions, South Africa reiterates its view that the Israeli Defence Force must 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," said the department in a statement.

The SA government further stated that it is in support of having an independent inquiry into the killings.

"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. 

"Like other members of the international community, South Africa is disturbed by the latest deadly aggression and reiterates calls made by several member states of the United Nations for an independent inquiry into the killings, with a view to holding to account those who are responsible," it added. 

The recent violence claimed the lives of 55 civilians and scores others were injured. The victims were taking part in a peaceful protest against the provocative inauguration of the United States embassy in Jerusalem. 

Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) told The Southern Times that the situation in Gaza has seriously deteriorated following the deadly protests that left 55 people dead and 2,271 wounded, including 1,359 wounded with live ammunition, according to their figures.

MSF said the incident is the single most deadly day since the violence during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge.

MSF representative in Palestine, Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, referred to the attack as a bloodbath and condemned the shooting as unacceptable and inhuman.

“Our medical teams are working around the clock, as they have done since April 1, providing surgical and post-operative care to men, women and children, and they will continue to do so tonight, tomorrow, and as long as they are needed," said Ingres.

Ingres added that Doctors Without Borders deployed four surgical teams in three hospitals, to deal with emergency surgery, adding that on Monday they performed more than 30 surgical interventions sometimes on two or three patients in the same operating theatre, and even in the corridors.

 

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