“The South African government’s decision to withdraw the South African Ambassador from Israel is outrageous and displays gross double-standards against the Jewish state. While we, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the SA Zionist Federation, regret the loss of life of civilians, we recognise that Israel as a sovereign state has the right to defend its own border and its own citizens,” the two organisations said in a statement.

The two entities said Israel “is facing a real danger with the incitement by Hamas of its own population to storm the security fence and attack Israeli civilians”.

The organisations said by withdrawing its envoy, South Africa was missing an important opportunity of playing a role in the conflict resolution.

“By withdrawing its Ambassador, South Africa is essentially walking away from playing any meaningful role in finding a sorely needed resolution to the conflict. The rhetoric used by the [South African] government has already has spilled into antisemitic comment on various social media platforms and the biggest losers are the South African Jewish community, and other peace-loving South Africans,” the two organisations said.

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“This is a victory only for extremism in the Middle East.  We call on the South African government to reconsider its decision immediately.”

Earlier on Monday evening, the South African government announced that it was withdrawing its representative in Israel after the deadly attacks in which Israeli forces killed at least 41 Palestinians along the Gaza border.

“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,” said South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco).

“The South African government condemns in the strongest terms possible the latest act of violent aggression carried out by Israeli armed forces along the Gaza border, which has led to the deaths of over 40 civilians. The victims were taking part in a peaceful protest against the provocative inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem.”

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The South African government said it “condemns in the strongest terms possible” the latest act of violent aggression carried out by Israeli armed forces along the Gaza border.

“The victims were taking part in a peaceful protest against the provocative inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem. This latest attack has resulted in scores of other Palestinian citizens reported injured, and the wanton destruction of property,” read the statement from Dirco.

The Pretoria authorities reiterated its stance, 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.

“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,” said Dirco.

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“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 UN for an independent inquiry into the killings, with a view to holding to account those who are responsible.”

Palestinian officials on Monday said at least 52 people have been killed in the latest round of protests. At least 1 700 Palestinian demonstrators were reportedly wounded on Monday along the border fence with Gaza as the mass protests that began on 30 March and that had already left dozens dead erupted anew.

The protests took place as the United States Embassy was formally relocated to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, on the 70th anniversary of the formation of Israel.

– African News Agency