The South African Presidency confirmed on Monday that the country had decided to withdraw its diplomats from Israel.

The Cabinet said it was also looking into the position of Israeli ambassador in the country.

Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said the decision was taken following talks on the situation in Gaza.

South Africa had earlier condemned Israel for blockading Gaza and denying food, water, electricity, and fuel to millions in the densely populated Palestinian enclave.

The country’s Foreign Ministry stated that it “condemns in the strongest possible terms Israel’s violation of the Geneva Conventions and the abandonment of International Humanitarian Law in Gaza,” while calling on Israel to immediately heed the calls of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to allow crucial life-saving supplies, including fuel, food and water into Gaza. It also called for the release of Israeli hostages taken into Gaza.

The Conflict:

The conflict began in October 2023, when Hamas initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood against Israel, a multi-pronged surprise attack including a barrage of rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel via land, sea, and air.

Hamas said the offensive was in retaliation for the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and Israeli settlers’ growing violence against Palestinians.

The Israeli military then launched Operation Swords of Iron against Hamas targets within the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s response has extended into cutting water and electricity supplies to Gaza, further worsening the living conditions in an area that has reeled under a crippling siege since 2007.

The UN relief agency for Palestinians has described the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza as “bone-chilling,” saying it is fast becoming a hell hole and is on the brink of collapse.

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