South Africa calls in Israeli ambassador to discuss conduct over Gaza war

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -South Africa has called in Israel’s ambassador to discuss what it described as his recent “unfortunate conduct” linked to the war in Gaza, the foreign ministry in Pretoria said on Friday.

The ministry said Eliav Belotsercovsky received the order on Thursday, but it did not go into details on his conduct.

“Ambassador Belotsercovsky is called upon to conduct himself in line with the Vienna Conventions, which accord heads of diplomatic missions certain privileges and responsibilities, key amongst which is to recognise the sovereign decisions of the host nation,” the South African statement said.

“Ambassador Belotsercovsky was once again called upon to convey South African Government concerns to Tel Aviv,” it added.

Israel’s embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

South Africa decided to recall its diplomats from Israel this week to assess its relationship with the country as civilian casualties rise in Israel’s war with the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

South Africa has long been an advocate for peace in the Middle East and has rallied behind Palestinians, likening their plight to South Africa’s before the end of apartheid in 1994. Israel rejects the comparison.

The statement on Friday reiterated calls for a ceasefire and said that South Africa wants the International Criminal Court to investigate the leadership of Israel for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

It also condemned the Oct. 7 attacks on civilians by Hamas and said these actions should be investigated for war crimes.

(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya and Nellie Peyton; Editing by Alison Williams, Andrew Heavens and Nick Macfie)