South Africa’s International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.. (Rodger Bosch/AFP)
South Africa’s International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the opening of humanitarian corridors to allow much needed aid to reach injured and displaced people.
The steps are among seven identified by Pandor which should be implemented promptly to end the killing and humanitarian crisis in Gaza — and to get a longer-term peace process underway.
In a statement in the National Assembly on Tuesday, Pandor said South Africa needed to add its voice to a call for an immediate end to the violence — and the start of a UN-mediated peace process in the region.
Gaza has been under siege by the Israeli army since 7 October, when shelling and bombing began in response to a raid by Hamas fighters who killed about 1 400 Israelis and abducted more than 200.
More than 10 000 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed in the shelling and airstrikes, which have targeted hospitals, schools, residential buildings and UN facilities.
Pandor said South Africa should add its voice to calling on all parties to “exercise restraint” and to desist from fuelling the conflict, including stopping the supply of weapons, as part of the path to peace.
She said in light of the recent comments by the Israeli government about the use of nuclear weapons, the region — like Africa — needed to be declared a nuclear-weapon-free zone.
Dialogue “led and owned by the Palestinians and Israelis and facilitated by the United Nations” needed to get underway as part of the process of ending the conflict for the long term and starting the process of setting up parallel states, the minister said.
Pandor also called for the use of a UN rapid-deployment force in Palestine with a mandate to implement the ceasefire, end hostilities and protect civilians from further violence.
She said that the instruments of the UN had “failed the people of Gaza”, as they had those of Rwanda and Bosnia in the 1990s, and called for their reform so that they were no longer just “a tool for the most powerful countries”.
The International Criminal Court, Pandor said, should have already issued a warrant for the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other decision-makers over what were clearly violations of international protocols.
The Israeli government’s actions, along with the kidnapping of civilians by Hamas, were violations of international law against which action should have already been taken.
On Monday, South Africa recalled members of its diplomatic mission from Tel Aviv in protest against the ongoing bombings, which Pandor described as a “genocide in the making”.
It is also considering expelling Israel’s ambassador to South Africa, Eli Belotserkovsky, over his “disparaging” comments on the conflict.