/ 12 October 2023

Ramaphosa calls for end to brutal Israeli-Hamas conflict

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A view of a destroyed buildings after Israeli airstrikes in Rafah, Gaza on October 12, 2023. (Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Anadolu via Getty Images)

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday called for a cessation of hostilities as Israel prepared to escalate its onslaught on Gaza after Hamas’s lethal incursion into southern Israel at the weekend.

The president extended his condolences to “all victims of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, his office said, noting that about 2 000 lives had been lost and 7 000 people injured since Saturday.

“Our thoughts are with all the victims’ families and loved ones during this perilous period of fighting.”

Ramaphosa called for an immediate, unconditional opening of humanitarian corridors.

Reports on Thursday said Israel had not provided an exit route for civilians while bombing Gaza in retaliation for an unprecedented attack that exploited weaknesses in its military structures and killed 1 200 people. 

According to the New York Times, getting safe passage for civilians was one of the issues US officials would press with their Israeli counterparts when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in the country on Thursday. 

Ramaphosa deplored the suffering inflicted on civilians and said it was important that essential supplies could reach communities.

“We remain gravely concerned at the devastating escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the atrocities committed against civilian populations,” he said. 

“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.”

The call came as the Israeli military said it had troops massed on the border with Gaza in preparation for “the next stage of the war”.

Ramaphosa called on the international community to redouble efforts to bring lasting peace to the region and said South Africa was ready to help.

This, he said, should yield a viable Palestinian state, existing in peace alongside Israel, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

“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.”