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MIDDLE EAST CRISIS

Ramaphosa calls for opening of Gaza humanitarian corridor, end to rampant Israel-Hamas violence

Ramaphosa calls for opening of Gaza humanitarian corridor, end to rampant Israel-Hamas violence
Illustrative image: Cyril Ramaphosa (Photos: Leila Dougan |Rawpixel | EFE/Michael Reynolds | EPA/ Yahya Arhab)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has made a call for the immediate cessation of violence between Israel and Hamas as attacks escalate. 

The presidency has condemned the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict where thousands of people have died, 340,000 have been displaced and 7,000 injured during conflict in the Middle Eastern territory.

In a statement issued on Thursday morning, President Cyril Ramaphosa urged the international community to accelerate its support towards establishing a viable Palestinian State. He believes that Palestine and Israel should co-exist in peace alongside the 1967 internationally recognised borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Latest: Israel Vows to Wipe Out Hamas as Ground War Looms

“Our thoughts are with all the victims’ families and loved ones during this perilous period of fighting. We remain gravely concerned at the devastating escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the atrocities committed against civilian populations. 

“We call for the immediate cessation of violence and the exercise of restraint. It is vital that all those who require urgent humanitarian assistance are provided with the basic life-supporting necessities and that human suffering is ameliorated,” according to President Ramaphosa.

The President has also called for immediate and unconditional opening of humanitarian corridors.

The South African government also offered to mediate in the conflict after it erupted at the weekend.

“South Africa stands ready to work with the international community and to share our experience in mediation and conflict resolution as we have done on the continent and around the world,” Ramaphosa said.

There is wide interest in the Middle East conflict in South Africa with Daily Maverick reporting on how lobby groups for both the Israeli and Palestinian causes are extremely vocal and active.

The governing ANC has always had a close relationship with Palestine and this week commented in support of it.

South Africans have been caught up on both sides of the violence between Palestine and Israel.

On the Israeli side, grandmother Marcelle Talia (65), who was born and raised in Wepener in the Free State, was shot dead last Saturday by Hamas in the kibbutz Ein HaShlosha, close to the border with the Gaza Strip, according to the South African Jewish Report.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the border, Haidar Eid, a South African-Palestinian dual national literature professor, living and working in Gaza with his wife and two young daughters, said he was trapped in Gaza after his flat was bombed during Israel’s retaliation for the Hamas attack. 

Marcelle Talia was visiting the Ein HaShlosha kibbutz to help her son-in-law, Dor Ben Tsur, by looking after his two children while their mother Liora was in hospital after giving birth to the couple’s third child, Asif, the day before. 

“We are totally distraught, devastated,” Talia’s close family relative, ex-South African Barbara Meltz-Kahn, told the SA Jewish Report from Jerusalem.

“Marcelle was a busy, happy, kind person. To be murdered for being Jewish in the Jewish homeland is impossible to comprehend,” she said.

The family said Talia left her guest room and tried to get to her grandchildren on the kibbutz, despite incessant messages warning everyone to stay put and take cover. 

They suspect she might have switched off her phone, as most observant Jews do on the Sabbath. 

Her sons Betzalel and Dididia later found her bullet-riddled body on the path between her guest room and her daughter and son-in-law’s nearby home.

Talia and her late husband, Yaakov, who was originally from Randfontein, met in Israel after they both emigrated there years ago. They established a farm on a hilltop near Beit Yatir, importing sheep from South Africa, and had four children, the SA Jewish Report said. 

In Gaza, where he is living with his wife and two daughters, Haidar Eid said: “My flat was bombed by apartheid Israel. Israel has said Gazans must leave.

“This is exactly what the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to say two days ago … But we can’t go anywhere because the border was bombed. Rafah is the only exit to the external world, between Gaza and Egypt. And it was bombed. 

“The other six crossings are controlled by apartheid Israel. We have no food, no electricity and water. And hospitals are bombed. And then the international community is standing idle, supporting apartheid Israel and blaming the victim. 

“What is going on right now is genocide. The international law defines genocide and it is exactly what is happening to us right now.”

Eid was speaking in a voice note distributed by the Palestine Media Group in SA. It said he was born in Gaza but lectured at Vista University in Soweto for many years before returning to Gaza, where he is now working as an associate professor of literature at Al-Aqsa University. He is also a musician. 

“He is a regular visitor to South Africa when he can get permission from Israel (which controls the border between Egypt and Gaza) to leave the Gaza Strip.”

Meanwhile, the SA Jewish Report also reported that the South African-born head of World Mizrachi, Rabbi Doron Perez, and his wife, Shelley, were waiting anxiously for news of their 22-year-old son, Daniel, an Israeli soldier who has not been heard from since Hamas overran his base on Saturday.

Mizrachi is the global Religious Zionist movement dedicated to strengthening the bond between the international Jewish community and Israel.

The Perez family lived in Johannesburg before emigrating to Israel several years ago. The older son, Yonatan, also a soldier, was shot in the leg during the Hamas attack, but is recovering in hospital.  

The SA Jewish Report said that Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein lauded the courage of the Perez brothers during a gathering at the Yeshiva Mizrachi campus in Johannesburg, where thousands of members of the Jewish community gathered to pray for the safety of Israel and its people, for the return of the Hamas hostages and for peace.

He said Daniel, who had had his Bar Mitzvah in that shul, was stationed at the Nahal Oz base close to the border with Gaza, “which was overrun by terrorists, and he’s missing in action”.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Israel-Palestine conflict could dangerously amplify local political tensions

Violent history

Reuters reported that Hamas fighters began their attack at dawn on Saturday with a huge barrage of rockets into southern Israel, giving cover to an unprecedented, multi-pronged infiltration of fighters into Israel from Gaza, which is home to 2.3 million Palestinians.

Hamas fighters killed at least 1,300 Israelis in clashes throughout Saturday and into Sunday, and escaped back into Gaza with dozens of hostages. More than 1,400 Gazans were killed when Israel responded with one of its most devastating days of retaliatory strikes.

Hamas said the attack was driven by what it called escalated Israeli attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem and against Palestinians in Israeli prisons. The conflict between militant groups aligned with Palestinians and the Israeli government has been ongoing for decades, as they battle over territory for their nations.

Israel captured the West Bank, along with Gaza and east Jerusalem, in the Six-Day War in 1967. However, the Palestinians want all three territories for their future state, but there have been no peace talks in over a decade.

AFP has reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has since vowed to destroy Hamas completely. Israel has massed forces, tanks and other heavy armour around Gaza in its retaliatory operation.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Gaza Strip — history of densely populated enclave is critical to understanding current conflict

It has been reported that Israel was caught off guard by this attack, which has been dubbed the worst intelligence failure in the nation’s history, a shock to a country that boasts of its intensive infiltration and monitoring of militants.

Israel launched new airstrikes and said it was preparing for a possible ground invasion on Thursday.

There have been growing concerns about the death toll rising in Gaza, not only because of strikes but the increasing lack of food, water, fuel and electricity as Israel suspends supplies. DM

Additional reporting by Peter Fabricius.

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Cornay Bester says:

    Ramaphosa is not a man of peace.

  • Hilary Morris says:

    While there is no doubt that a solution needs to be found, and one in which the Palestinians live in freedom, preferably in one united country, the designation of this as an “Israeli-Hamas” conflict is breathtakingly misleading. Whether this comes from the presidency or the DM reporter, it must be noted that Hamas is a terrorist organisation that launched a brutal, devastatingly evil attack on a civilian population. An attack in which they allegedly raped, mutilated and beheaded small children. It is also generally accepted that they have little compunction in shielding themselves behind their own civilian population to enable them to accuse Israel of attacking innocent people. Perhaps DM should publish Gareth Cliff’s article today, side by side with the statement from NADEL. As for Ramaphosa offering to mediate, there are no words…..

    • Ben Harper says:

      It’s also a widely known but often ignored fact that Al Fatah were cooperating with Israel for peaceful solution and this was well advanced Hamas on the other hand have the sole purpose of wiping Israel and it’s people off the face of the earth and are not willing to negotiate in any way or form

  • Mark Parker says:

    The ANC (aka. SA Govt) should sit down and STFU. A party/government that believes it can “mediate” effectively when it has already boldly stated that it Stands with Palestine must be one of the most dumbf..k statements ever…even for the ANC. It is openly anti-western, anti-capitalist and anti-semetic and our ANC/SA President has gladly supported the inclusion of Iran into BRICS, just last month. But, let’s ignore ANC/SA Govt allegiance to the Palestinian cause, we have the experience. The sheer unadulterated stupidity, arrogance and obtusity that resides within the people in the Union Buildings and Luthuli House would need Messrs. Dunning & Kruger to create another standard…we can refer to it as the “ANC Phenom Scale”.

    • Robin Naidoo says:

      I hope that both sides reach a peaceful solution urgently. Aid should be allowed for the people and hospitals.

      As for President Ramaposa statement, I live in SA and we don’t have lights, water and basic services. So he should sort his own country before getting involved in solving conflicts in other countries.

  • SupraTentoriaL . says:

    This is very poor reporting, unexpectedly so for DM. It’s not 250 Israelis who were killed in the raid, its more than 1000, almost all civilians, of which 260 were youngsters at a peace music festival.
    There’s no mention made in this article of the most important driver , which is the unimaginable cruelty of beheading 30 of 40 babies that were killed, shot and burned to death in their cribs, and kidnapping children and elderly.  Why leave out this most important information unless you are deliberately attempting to sway the reader?

    Why also do you leave out the critical fact that Hamas reject the 2 state solution.  They are a group who are not interested in anything other than jihad. Cyril is a laughing stock for being unaware of this, and for thinking that he has any credibility in the Western world after cosying up to  Hamas and Iran and China and Russia. 

    ANC have turned SA into a depraved rogue state.

    • Shaun Slayer says:

      Ok, I can’t post a link but go look at the video on CNN. Hamas official reveals intent behind assault on Israel on Russian TV. Im sure ol squirrel never saw this coming.

    • mtdeshmukh123 says:

      Hamas has denied these false claims and declared it was made with the intent to mislead the public. There is no evidence of any of the so called rape claims and the be heading of children. Hamas strategically plans and targets IDF armed forces, the same can’t be said for Israel since as we speak they are currently targeting innocent civilians and places where they’re all gathered. Of course the media will try to filter this out.

      If you can claim that Hamas is a terrorist organization then why not place Israel in the same boat. After all 2 million people in Gaza were taken hostage by the IDF in the last 16 years. Not to mention the the police brutality against worshippers in Masjid AL Alqsa as well as the forced displacement of it’s people.

      Also looking at 2022 statistics Israel’s brutality against Palestinians was at it’s worst compared to countless years of brutality, forced removals, air bombs being dropped in Gaza etc. The number of innocent kids and civilians who were killed and continue to be targeted by the IDF never gets mentioned but the double standards of the West portraying the IDF as the victims and the Palestinians as the “human animals” prevails on almost every news outlet.

      Wake up to reality!!

      • Gordon Cyril says:

        There is now comprehensive evidenced and verified proof that every one of the mindless atrocities casued by Hamas are not only true but more are coming to light for which there are no words

      • Ben Harper says:

        what complete and utter nonsense! Hamas’s stated sole purpose is to wipe Israel and its people off the face of the earth. Hamas is the aggressor and always has been!

  • Father of Sharjah says:

    Im embarrassed to call him our President. He has not condemned his mate Putins invasion and carpet bombing in Ukraine. However, after Hamas incursion into Israel ( also known as the Holy Land to 3 religions) on Saturday where over a thousand unarmed civilians were murdered and some decapitated in the manner of an ISIS revenge attack, cup cake has not censured the Hamas aggressor. ANC and cup cake support them. Why not get 100 mothers from each side to sit down in a CIVIL mothers family meeting to find a solution to their children and grand children learning to coexist and build a beneficial community. I am neither Jewish nor Islamic but my son is named after a Palestinian university student who hosted me as a student of his Israeli university and took me around to meet Jewish and Palestinian farmers in Israel in 1979. He was working in farming extension with both Jewish and Islamic people in the Holy Land

  • John Buchan says:

    Is Ramaphosa still alive?

  • Johan Buys says:

    And in other news, South Africans call for an end to cadre deployment and corruption and demand delivery of basic services. The odds of a peaceful Israel solution are probably better.

    2024 Election is waiting for you ANC

  • Denise Smit says:

    DM this is the most unprofessional article with not representing both sides. Are you in the employ of the corrupt ANC government. Denise Smit

    • Jim F. says:

      This is an increasingly recurrent theme with DM. They periodically lead with “big” investigations while ‘run of mill reporting’ diminishes to recycled MSM agency releases. You get what you pay for, or not in this case.

  • Trenton Carr says:

    As thick as a brick, and an insult to bricks.

  • Gordon Cyril says:

    When Hamas has been erased so as not to ever (repeat ever) allow these indescribable atrocities to be inflicted on babies, kids, young girls and the elderly…and… every single hostage has been released…and…a new administration inserted into Gaza, then there can be a conversation. Up until then this is a war that Israel did not ask for and everything that happens to Gazans (for whom Hamas gives not a single jot) is the direct liability of Hamas.

    It is also absurd that the Gazan electricity grif has been predominantly destroyed by Hamas own rockets, so the sheer absurdity of Israel having to pay for and repair the grid caused by damage created by Hamas so that they can start the process over again is idiotic in the extreme.

    Israel is still contacting Gazans before a raid (something Hamas did not do) to minimise casualties but to repeat this is now a war and the defending side does not contact its attackers to help enable them continue. Bizarre

  • Jon Quirk says:

    Cyril Ramaphosa’s hollow cry for mediation in the “Hamas and Israel” war is an attempt to row back from the disgraceful and internationally hugely embarrassing earlier comments by senior ANC figures, draped in Hamas flags and colours, and his attempts to now put himself forward as a mediator for peace, totally risible.

    Mediation between Palestine and Israel will indeed happen, and Palestine will have to accept the two-state solution, but only when the murderous, primitive and savage Hamas have been obliterated, as ISIS was before them.

    Terrorist organisations, Mr President, have no place in a modern World and need to either adapt and move on (the ANC itself is struggling with this necessary adaptation), or be dissolved.

  • Grenville Wilson says:

    Who gives a damn what he says. CR the opportunist trying to appear relevant on the Global stage.

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    Haidar Eid is so consumed with hate and his head filled with propoganda that he can’t utter the word Israel without calling it “Apartheid Israel”. Not once but three times in one statement. That is the mentality that led to this pogrom

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    Note to the writer. Egypt controls its border with Gaza not Israel. The reason it blocks entry for Palestinians is because it doesn’t want to be infiltrated by terrorists. The same applies to Jordan which removed Palestinians in a bloody battle, Lebanon which keeps them in camps and of course Saudi and the Gulf States who distance themselves completely. .

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      Of course … the Americans want a ‘partnership’ with the (democratic – sic!?) Saudi’s, whose leader ordered the unspeakable murder of a journalist in Turkey … not so long ago.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      And Israel … only bombs the so-called Egyptian border … whenever it feels like it ?

  • Rod H MacLeod says:

    Dear Mr President – between April 2022 and March 2023 more than 27,000 South Africans were MURDERED. Before you fly away in your presidential jet with 432 sycophantic Johnny Walker quaffing personnel in tow to sort out the problems in Gaza where around 2,000 people have been murdered, may you please have a session or two with the worm in your crotch Mr Cele and see if you cannot solve these civilian deaths at home?

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    The cosplay president suffers from a crippling lack of credibility and gravitas. His hubris is similarly disabling.

  • Agf Agf says:

    What is also not mentioned in the many articles about Gaza, is that it was the Gaza citizens who voted Hamas into power. They weren’t duped either as Hamas stated right up front that their sole aim was the annihilation of Israel. When they voted for Hamas they voted for war.

  • James S. Henry says:

    For those inclined to demonize Hamas as a “terrorist” organization, a few complexities: (1) Hamas has long received significant aid and scope from Israel itself over the years, especially from Bibi, who sought to create an alternative to Fatah + the Palestinian Authority just to maintain division. (2) While Hamas won majority support in Gaza in the last election in 2006/7, it reportedly now rules with an iron hand. This only underscores the obscenity of holding all 2.3 mm Gazans responsible for Hamas’ actions. (3) If we are searching for a genuine “terrorist organization,” we need look no further than “Kach/Kahane Chai,” an explicitly violent Jewish supremacy organization that has been officially classified in the US as a “terror org,”
    and features none other than Itamar Ben-Gvir, one of Bibi’s key coalition members, as a major domo. So to account for recent developments, we must dig deeper than most supporters of contemporary Apartheid Zionism are willing to do. The hard rightward migration of Israeli politics, under the endlessly self-serving direction of Bibi Netanyahu + the 700k-strong militantly annexationist settler movement —backed by enormous foreign funding — has played a huge role. When Bibi appeared at the UN in September with a “futures map” that omitted the West Bank and Gaza entirely as independent entities, it was game on. Of course nothing ever justifies political violence. But it is one thing to condemn such violence, and quite another to understand that it was inevitable, given the mediocre brutilitarians who have somehow managed to grab control of the steering wheels in both Israel AND the US lately.

    • Middle aged Mike says:

      Unfair! Based on the videos they posted all over the internet I’d say Hamas more than qualify for the title of terrorist organization and a really solid one at that. Credit where credit’s due and all that.

      • Kanu Sukha says:

        So .. you will reserve the absolute right to decide what is terrorist and what is not … ? Did you forget that the same US and Israel were uncompromising defenders of the apartheid state in S.A. … right to the end … and reserved the ‘right’ to label the ANC as ‘terrorist’ ?

        • Specific and purposefully intended targeting of innocent civilians is how organisations like the ANC and MK, (and Hamas) earned the terrorist moniker. Fatal attacks included the 1983 Church Street bombing, the 1985 Amanzimtoti bombing, the 1986 Magoo’s Bar bombing, and the 1987 Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court bombing. The armed struggle continued with attacks on a series of soft targets, including a bank in Roodepoort in 1988, in which four civilians were killed and 18 injured. Also in 1988, a bomb outside a magistrate’s court killed three. At the Ellis Park rugby stadium in Johannesburg, a car bomb killed two and injured 37 civilians. A multitude of bombs at restaurants and fast food outlets, including several Wimpy Bars, and supermarkets occurred during the late 1980s, killing and wounding many people.

  • ilike homophones says:

    the photos of the murdered babies should be published …. …. …. show the world what was done to them ….. …. …. you can publish it with warnings …. …. …. so only the people who want to see it, …… …. will see it.

    • Peter Holmes says:

      The UK’s Telegraph published a photo of a murdered Jewish baby in his/her (difficult to tell with a baby of around 7 months) crib. I subscribe to the Telegraph, so I saw the photo yesterday. The Telegraph display a warning and give readers the option as to whether or not they wish to view the image. Those responsible have lost any vestige of humanity which they might once have posessed.

  • ilike homophones says:

    DM, the photos of the babies should be published …. …. …. show the world what was done to them ….. …. …. you can publish it with warnings …. …. …. so only the people who want to see it, …… …. will see it.

  • Brian Doyle says:

    Does Ramaphosa not know Hamas is now a terrorist organisation when he supports them. He should first sort out the terror and killings here at home before sprouting nonsense

  • Ralph Yarrow says:

    Comments from ‘both sides’ are understandably angry . I would however recommend taking a look at this short essay by Charles Eisenstein: ‘Hamas, Israel, and the Devil on my Shoulder’. It may be accessed via:
    Charles Eisenstein essays

  • virginia crawford says:

    No one cares what you say, Cyril. Any feedback on your trip to Moscow?

  • Esskay Esskay says:

    When our delusional Pres condemns the savage attack by Hamas on civilians women children and babies – never mind his sympathy for the Palistinians – then we can give him some credibility. Why don’t you report that Israel has said that if the hostages are released the restrictions will be eased?

  • Louella Humphrey says:

    How about our president calling for the unconditional release of hostages… guess he didn’t think of that.

  • Pierre Joubert says:

    ANC beating their Colonial Drum, Ramaphosa deflecting his personal “one of them or not” problems, acting out a Nelson Mandela 2 role, covering up his own mess at home, saviors of the world are us.

    But does not say, or chooses to not remember, that the Jewish People are reclaiming their land, from which they had been dispossessed a thousand years ago

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