MIDDLE EAST CRISIS
ANC calls for a halt on planned Israeli strike in Gaza
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa has pledged his party’s solidarity to Palestine while raising his concerns over the dire consequences of the ongoing violent conflict between Israel and Hamas. More than 3,000 people in Israel and Gaza have been killed in the conflict, with thousands more injured.
The ANC’s weekend National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting kicked off with the party’s top brass paying tribute to Palestinians who have been caught in the crossfire of a battle between Israel and Hamas.
Party president Cyril Ramaphosa, along with the members of the NEC, were dressed in black and wore the Palestinian keffiyeh for the Saturday morning meeting at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg.
Ramaphosa called on the UN and other relevant organisations to help convince the Israeli government to halt their planned strike on Gaza.
The Israeli government told all civilians to vacate the northern parts of Gaza and move to the south of the city ahead of a promised ground offensive.
“South Africa and the ANC stands firm in the resolution of conflict … To this end we have called on the international community, the UN and all concerned international bodies to make sure peace is restored in Palestine and that the Israeli government is directed at withdrawing this command of getting people out of the northern part of Gaza because it will in the end almost amount to genocide.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Deadly weekend of violence – Israeli forces clash with Hamas gunmen after hundreds killed
“Now the violation of the rights of the Palestinians that has manifested itself through the occupation of the land, through bringing in settlers so close and in their land is something that is causing a great deal of concern and has possibly sparked off this conflict that is now unfolding. The worst part is when the Israeli government now says 1.1 million people must evacuate the northern part of Gaza,” Ramaphosa added.
Ramaphosa’s main concern is that the conflict could spill over to neighbouring countries and worsen the situation.
The ANC has a longstanding relationship with Palestine and believes the only solution for the problems in the Middle East, particularly Israel and Palestine, is a two- state solution based on the 1967 borders as approved by the world community and the UN.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Israel calls for civilians to leave Gaza City as military amasses tanks
“As many countries and leaders in the world have opined that they [Palestinians] have been under occupation for almost 75 years and people under occupation who have been waging a struggle against an oppressive government which has occupied their land, but also a government which has in recent times been dubbed an apartheid state.
“As people and an organisation which has struggled against an oppressive system of apartheid, we do pledge solidarity with the Palestinians,” he reiterated.
Earlier this week, Israel announced it was imposing a “total siege” on the enclave in response to Hamas’s October 7 attack that killed more than 1,300 people.
The South African government said two South Africans had been killed in the crossfire.
“The Department of International Relations and Cooperation can confirm that we have been notified that two South African nationals have died in this ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel.
“The verification process is currently underway because one of the individuals is reported to have an Israeli ID number, so we need to determine whether there is dual citizenship or what the picture is,” spokesperson Clayson Monyela said.
The Israeli army unleashed its heaviest bombing campaign on the Hamas-run coastal enclave, dropping bombs while also cutting off access to food, fuel, medicine and other supplies since the October 7 attack.
Ambassador weighs in
Meanwhile, Palestinian Ambassador to South Africa Hanan Jarrar on Friday spoke to the media saying that Israel’s retaliation is an “ethnic cleansing”. Jarrar called on the international community to strongly condemn the recent strikes by Israel.
She went on to liken the conflict between Palestine and Israel to that of the fight against apartheid in South Africa.
“For over 16 years, the over two million people of Gaza have been under siege by Israel and forced into what is considered the world’s largest open-air prison,” said Jarrar.
“Israel has dropped hundreds of tons of bombs on Gaza causing extensive destruction to homes, infrastructure, schools and healthcare facilities.
“In South Africa, the problem was not that some members of the liberation movement chose armed resistance, the problem was apartheid itself. [This] should also be the case for Palestinians,” she said. DM