, JOHANNESBURG, Jun 3 – South Africa is recalling its ambassador to Israel in the wake of the deadly raid on an aid convoy bound for the Gaza Strip, a government said on Thursday.
"The recall of ambassador Ishmael Coovadia is to show our strongest condemnation of the attack.
This recent Israel aggression of attacking the aid flotilla severely impacts on finding a lasting solution to the problems of the region," junior foreign minister Ebrahim Ebrahim told journalists in Pretoria.
"We are recalling him for consultation which suggests that after consultation he will go back to Tel Aviv. It\’s not a permanent recall," Ebrahim added.
The South African government has already condemned the attack on the flotilla on Monday, in which nine people were killed, as "a gross violation of international law".
Since the fall of the whites-only apartheid regime in 1994, South Africa has been an outspoken critic of Israel and infuriated the Jewish state with its willingness to meet members of the Islamist movement Hamas which rules Gaza.
Elsewhere, Turkey has said its ties with Israel suffered "irreparable" damage and "will never be the same" after the deadly raid Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Thursday.
"From now on, Turkish-Israeli ties will never be the same. This incident has left an irreparable and deep scar" on relations, he said in televised remarks.
Gul added that Monday\’s attack by Israeli forces, in which eight Turks and a US national of Turkish origin were killed, "is not an issue that can be forgotten… or be covered up."
"Israel has made the biggest mistake in its history. It will realise this better in the future. Turkey will never forgive this attack," he said.
The bodies of the nine victims were brought to Turkey early on Thursday along with more than 450 activists and 19 wounded deported by Israel after being captured in the raid.
Turkey\’s Anatolia news agency reported that the victims were shot dead after forensic experts found bullet marks on their bodies.
Turkey has already recalled its ambassador to Tel Aviv and scrapped joint war games with Israel in an angry response to the attack.