/ 20 October 2023

Ramaphosa to attend Cairo summit on Israel-Hamas war

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Israeli police look on as Muslim Palestinians take part in Friday prayers in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Ras al-Amud, on October 20, 2023, following age restrictions by Israeli police to above 50-year-olds to worshippers wanting to access the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)

President Cyril Ramaphosa will on Saturday attend the Cairo Summit for Peace at the invitation of his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, his office said.

“The summit will discuss the ongoing escalation of the conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip, the urgent need for humanitarian support and make a call for the resumption of the peace process.”

Egyptian media reported that 12 leaders had confirmed they would attend the summit on the Israeli-Hamas war.

The presidency reiterated that South Africa wanted to help negotiate a peaceful resolution to the conflict that risks spreading beyond Gaza, where Israel is expected to launch a ground offensive in coming days.

“South Africa stands ready to join the global effort that will bring about lasting peace to the Middle East.”

As he has repeatedly done since Hamas attacked southern Israel on 7 October, Ramaphosa again deplored the targeting of civilians and the mounting death toll in the conflict.

More than 1,300 people died in the surprise attacks by Hamas, while Gaza health officials say Israel’s bombardment of the region has so far claimed 3,785 lives.

“President Ramaphosa has been deeply concerned by attacks on civilians, the resulting enormous loss of life, displacement of people and the humanitarian crisis that has engulfed the Gaza Strip.”

South Africa has repeatedly called for the immediate cessation of hostilities, return of hostages and the urgent opening of humanitarian corridors, the presidency noted.

Israel has refused to open its borders with Gaza to allow humanitarian aid to reach the besieged enclave. US President Joe Biden has brokered a deal to allow limited aid in through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, which is the only route not controlled by Israel.

International media reported on Friday that though aid was piling up at the crossing, it had yet to reopen and nothing had entered Gaza.