South Africa Withdraws Israel Ambassador, Turkey Withdraws from Israel and U.S.

Members of pro-Islamic NGO IHH and other groups holding Turkish and Palestinian flags stage a rally following Friday prayers in Istanbul, Friday, May 11, 2018 to protest the US decision to relocate its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. The embassy is moving from Tel Aviv in line with President Donald Trump's …
AP Photo/Erhan Demirtas

Turkey and South Africa announced that they will withdraw their ambassadors from Israel, and Turkey from the U.S., on Monday as Hamas claims dozens of deaths following riots on the Gaza-Israel border.

The  Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza claims that at least 55 Palestinians were killed and hundreds more wounded in riots taking place at 12 locations along the border, primarily a response to the official opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) says that around 50,000 Gazans are participating in the clashes while claiming that three Gazans were shot while attempting to plant explosive devices at the border fence. Others were reportedly killed trying to shoot at Israeli soldiers.

Speaking in front of students, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged that his government would react “harshly” to events and that he would be withdrawing his ambassador back to Ankara for “consultations.”

“Israel is wreaking state terror. Israel is a terror state,” he continued. “What Israel has done is a genocide. I condemn this humanitarian drama, the genocide, from whichever side it comes, Israel or America.”

Erdogan has long been an opponent of the existence of the state of Israel and has condemned the embassy move as a “very, very unfortunate” decision that “will increase tensions and ignite an even greater fire between communities.”

In South Africa, officials also confirmed that they would be removing their ambassador from Tel Aviv.

“Given the indiscriminate and grave manner of the latest Israeli attack, the South African government has taken a decision to recall Ambassador Sis Ngombane with immediate effect until further notice,” South Africa’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“The victims were taking part in a peaceful protest against the provocative inauguration of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem” that also condemned “violent aggression carried out by Israeli armed forces,” according to the statement.

“This latest attack has resulted in scores of other Palestinian citizens reported injured, and the wanton destruction of property,” it continued.

South Africa’s leftist government has long been a prominent supporter of the Palestinian cause. Last year, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) passed legislation designed to downgrade the country’s diplomatic presence to a liaison office, although such a move has yet to be implemented.

Another country to issue a rare condemnation of events was Egypt, whose foreign ministry condemned Israel over “the use of force against peaceful marches” and warned of the “negative repercussion of such serious escalation in the Palestinian occupied territories.”

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