A Palestinian boy carries a make-shift white flag as he arrives with his mother near Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on 6 November, 2023. AFP
Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, a minister in the president's office, told a press briefing that all diplomatic staff in Tel Aviv would be asked back to Pretoria for consultations, without providing further details.
"We are extremely concerned at the continued killing of children and innocent civilians in the Palestinian territories and we believe the nature of response by Israel has become one of collective punishment," Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor told a later press conference.
"We felt it important that we do signal the concern of South Africa while continuing to call for a comprehensive cessation of hostilities".
Pretoria has long been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party often linking it to its own struggle against apartheid.
Pandor said the recall of the diplomats was "normal practice", adding the envoys would give a "full briefing" on the situation to the government, which would then decide whether it can be of assistance or if a "continued relationship is actually able to be sustained."
South Africa's decision to recall its diplomatic staff from Tel Aviv comes after a number of countries in the Global South cut diplomatic ties with Israel in protest of its war on Gaza.
On Monday, Chad recalled its ambassador to Israel to protest against the Israeli war on the strip.
Last Tuesday, Bolivia severed its diplomatic ties with Israel as a rebuke for its bloody offensive in the Palestinian territory.
On the same day, Chile, which has the largest Palestinian population outside the Arab world, recalled its ambassador to Israel in protest against Israel's "unacceptable violations of international humanitarian law."
Colombia also recalled its ambassador to Israel to protest against the massacres committed by Israel in its war on Gaza.
"I have decided to recall our ambassador to Israel for consultation. If Israel does not stop the massacre of the Palestinian people, we cannot be there," Colombia's President Gustavo Petro wrote on X Tuesday.
On Friday, Honduras recalled its ambassador from Israel for consultations over Israel's war in Gaza.
Other Latin American countries, including Argentina and Brazil, have denounced the devastating impact that Israeli airstrikes on the strip are having on the civilian population.