SA recalls Israel ambassador amid attacks

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pretoria - South Africa on Thursday announced that it was recalling its ambassador to Israel for consultations following the killing of nine activists on a Gaza-bound boat.

The attack, which drew worldwide condemnation, happened on Monday when a ship attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza was attacked.

International Relations and Corporation Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim said: "This recent Israeli aggression of attacking the aid flotilla severely impacts on finding a lasting solution to the problems of the region.

"Therefore, in light of this attack by Israel the South African Government has decided to recall our Ambassador to Israel, Ismail Coovadia, back to South Africa for consultations".

Ebrahim said Pretoria has also summoned the Israeli Ambassador to South Africa Dov Sergev-Steinberg to a meeting with Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Sue Van Der Merwe to discuss the matter.

"This was done in order to present a Demarche, registering the Government's strongest possible protest to the Israeli Government, for its unjustified military action and resultant loss of life inflicted by The State of Israel on a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian relief supplies to Gaza," Ebrahim said.

He said government has also noted that Israel is in the process of releasing and deporting activists detained in the military attack on the ships. Many of these have already arrived in Jordan and Turkey.

It was also confirmed that Gadija Davids, the South African journalist who was caught in the cross fire during the attack, was in fact on one of these flights arranged by the Turkish Government. She is currently with South Africa's Ambassador to Turkey and is due to land in South Africa on Friday.

Ebrahim said the South African Government also joins the international community in its call for the siege of Gaza to be immediately lifted. "This siege, which has brought untold hardships to the ordinary people of Gaza and made their lives nightmarish, is unconscionable and unsustainable. In this regard, the Government welcomes the decision by Egypt to open the Rafa crossing".

He said South Africa has always stated that a long term solution to the problems of the region can only be achieved through negotiation. What was needed is the creation of a climate of mutual trust and peace.