South Africa has recalled its ambassador to Israel with immediate effect over Washington's inauguration of the Jerusalem embassy.
Mr Sisa Ngombane was recalled after International Relations and Cooperation minister Lindiwe Sisulu made contact with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about possibly delaying America’s move.
At least 50 people, including six children were shot dead, while more than 2,700 others were injured by Israeli snipers as the US inaugurated the embassy in Jerusalem on Monday.
“My request to him (Mike Pompeo) on behalf of the South African government was if there was no way that we can put off for a while the establishment and inauguration of the embassy in east Jerusalem? And he said that it was too late for that,” Ms Sisulu told journalists in Cape Town.
Ms Sisulu criticised the use of lethal force by the Israeli Defence Force against Palestinians on the Gaza Strip, saying it is unacceptable. She urged the Israeli Defence Force to exercise restraint.
“We were informed that the people of Palestine were preparing for more marches. We hope that we can persuade the Israeli Defence Force to be a little more cautious. It is possible for them to protect themselves if they wish to protect themselves with any other means but deadly means, which they used yesterday. It is unacceptable and we join the rest of the world in condemning this,” she said on Tuesday.
Thousands of Palestinians were protesting the opening of the US embassy in East Jerusalem, which has been relocated from Tel Aviv.
Huge demonstrations have been planned across the West Bank and the Israeli army was on high alert.
At least 103 Palestinians have so far been killed in large-scale protests, mostly along the Israel-Gaza border.
The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) on Tuesday morning, marched to Parliament calling for Israel’s ambassador to South Africa to be expelled.
“We would also want to urge the government to continue to put pressure on Israel to start peace negotiations. The massacre that happened yesterday is completely unacceptable,” said the group’s representative Mishka Daries
Other pro-Palestinian groups were due to protest outside the US consulate in Sandton on Tuesday afternoon.
On the other hand, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies’ Zev Krengel said the government appears to have double standards over recalling the South African ambassador in Israel.
“We’re extremely upset and disappointed. The double standards are just outrageous. South Africa has never behaved like this with any other country. The only country they behaved like this with is the Jewish state.”