South Africa Will Not Reinstate Ambassador to Israel, Recalled Over Gaza Deaths

Since the envoy was recalled in 2018, the embassy functioned as a representative office, mainly providing consular service

Medics and protester evacuate a wounded youth, who was shot by Israeli troops while marking the first anniversary of Gaza border protests, March 30, 2019.
Abdel kareem Hana / AP

South Africa will not reinstate its ambassador to Israel, who was recalled in 2018 in protest of the high death toll in Gaza, South African Foreign Affairs Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Friday. 

Since the South African envoy was recalled, a move that weakened ties between the two countries, the embassy has been functioning as a representative office, mainly providing consular service. Ngombane's roles have been fulfilled by the embassy's consultant. 

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"The South Africa government condemns in the strongest terms possible the latest act of violent aggression carried out by Israeli armed forces along the Gaza border," the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement released in 2018.

"Given the indiscriminate and grave manner of the latest Israeli attack, the government has taken the decision to recall Ambassador Sisa Ngombane with immediate effect until further notice," the statement went on to read.

"The victims were taking part in a peaceful protest against the provocative inauguration of the US Embassy in Jerusalem," it said referring to the relocation of the American embassy to Jerusalem.

The South African government, which has long expressed support for the Palestinian cause, has for some time considered downgrading its representation to Israel.

Although condemnations of the deadly outcome of protests in Gaza has been widespread, South Africa was the first country to take concrete steps against Israel in its wake.