The Foreign Ministry said on Monday it recalled Israeli Ambassador to South Africa Eli Belotserkovsky for consultations in Jerusalem following a series of statements by officials in the country, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who accused Israel of committing genocide in the Gaza Strip.
Over the weekend, President Ramaphosa also declared that his country had turned to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, demanding an investigation into "war crimes and crimes against humanity" allegedly committed by Israel in the war.
In his statement regarding the appeal to The Hague—despite an ongoing investigation on the matter, including the atrocities committed by Hamas in the October 7 terror attack—Ramaphosa argued that Gaza has become a "concentration camp." He added that while he does not support Hamas' actions and the kidnapping of Israelis to Gaza, he did not explicitly condemn the horrors of the massacre. He stated that Israel's response, involving airstrikes where Gazans are "killed like flies," constitutes a war crime.
Israeli officials fumed over the statements, with a diplomatic source stating, "Recalling the ambassador for consultations sends a message to South Africa that it has crossed all lines." However, this may be a form of preemptive action, as Pretoria has already floated the idea of removing the Israeli ambassador.
Last Thursday, the ruling ANC party announced its support for an initiative in parliament to demand that the government close the South African embassy in Tel Aviv and sever all ties with Israel.
South Africa, as a significant supporter of the Palestinians in the international community, consistently voices criticism against Israel. It often draws parallels between the Palestinian struggle and the historic fight against apartheid by its black population. As a notable example, South Africa recalled its ambassador from Israel in 2018, and since then, it has had no ambassador in the country. Last week, in protest against the Gaza attacks, South Africa withdrew all its diplomats from Israel and announced a review of its diplomatic relations with the country.