By Daniel De Simone & Basillioh Rukanga
BBC News, Johannesburg & Nairobi
Israel has recalled its ambassador in South Africa “for consultations”, Israel’s foreign ministry has said.
It follows the “latest South African statements” on Israel, ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat said on X without giving specifics.
South Africa has been highly critical of Israel’s military operation in Gaza.
On Monday it urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by mid-December.
Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said failure to do so would signal a “total failure” of global governance.
The recall of Israeli Ambassador Eliav Belotserkovsky comes just before South Africa is due to host a virtual summit of the Brics group of nations, which includes China and Russia, on the Israel-Hamas war.
The meeting to be chaired by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa hopes to draw up a common response to the conflict.
Also on Tuesday, South Africa’s parliament is expected to vote on whether to close the Israeli embassy and suspend all diplomatic relations until Israel agrees to a cease-fire and commits to negotiations facilitated by the UN.
The governing African National Congress has agreed to the motion but whether the party or the government will support the motion in parliament remains to be seen.
Israel launched a major military campaign in Gaza in response to a cross-border attack by hundreds of Hamas gunmen on 7 October, in which at least 1,200 people were killed and about 240 others taken hostage.
Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says at least 13,000 people have been killed in the territory since Israel launched its retaliatory campaign.
The UN Security Council has called for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses” for “a sufficient number of days” to allow UN agencies to safely enter the sealed-off territory.
South Africa, which has long been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, has been critical of the nature of Israel response which it has described as “collective punishment”.
The country, along with Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros and Djibouti, has submitted a referral to the ICC to investigate whether war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Gaza.
South Africa has recalled its diplomats from Israel. There has been no South African ambassador in Israel for five years.
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