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    Mauritania severs diplomatic ties with Israel

    Jerusalem (PTI): Mauritania, one of the three Arab countries to have diplomatic ties with Israel, has ordered the Jewish state's diplomats to leave its capital within 48 hours in the wake of Tel Aviv's recent offensive in Gaza which left 1400 Palestinians dead, many of them women and children.

    In response to Mauritania's move, Israel's Foreign Ministry said it will immediately close its offices in the Arab state, but added that the decision is only temporary, Ha'aretz Online reported. Israeli staff was seen leaving the Mauritanian embassy, the report said.

    Relations between the two countries have been strained since Israel's military offensive in Gaza in late December. Mauritania recalled its envoy to Israel in January for consultation, a move that had been seen as a "first step" to cutting ties.

    Israeli Foreign Ministry officials had been hoping that tensions between the countries will ease over time and were taken by surprise by Friday's announcement by Mauritania.


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