International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, on Tuesday warned that the crime of genocide “sadly” looms large in the current situation in Gaza, as the conflict between Israel and Palestine continues.
“We recall that in 1994, a genocide occurred on the African continent, with much of the whole world watching as innocent people were massacred,” she said.
Pandor, who delivered a statement in the National Assembly explaining the country's standpoint on the war, called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the opening of humanitarian corridors and basic services to allow much-needed aid to reach those that are injured.
“The actions that we are witnessing daily by Israel are a violation of international law, including the United Nations Charter, the Geneva Convention and all its protocols, and its attacks on and kidnapping of innocent civilians.”
While she did not mince her words when talking about Israel, she told the Members of Parliament that Hamas has also violated international law.
“While we express horror at the violence, it is critical that we acknowledge that the illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel for several decades has led to bitter hatred and increased violence, and this violence is not the first violence the people of Palestine have experienced.”
The violation, she said, has been going on for decades.
“The murder of children of women... is an act that should have resulted in the International Criminal Court issuing an immediate arrest warrant for key decision makers, including Mr Benjamin Netanyahu, who is responsible for violations of international criminal law.”
According to Al Jazeera, at least 10 328 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in Israeli attacks since October 7. Meanwhile, the news channel said the death toll in Israel over the same period stands at more than 1 400.
Pandor has once again stressed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be solved through the establishment of two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace.
“The Palestinian State should be created along the lines of the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital, and in line with standing multiple UN resolutions.”
Pandor believes that for this two-State solution to materialise, a peace process initiated by the United Nations (UN) needs to commence urgently.
“We are aware that increasing settlements and illegal occupation have been used to make the creation of a Palestinian State almost impossible.”
Pandor has since outlined concrete actions to end the suffering, including an immediate comprehensive ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian corridors.
She called on all parties to exercise restraint and to desist from fueling unjust war and human suffering, including by seizing the supplying of weapons to the various parties and for the release of all civilian hostages.
“Africa seeks the resumption of a comprehensive dialogue led and owned by Palestinians and Israelis themselves and facilitated by the United Nations,” she said.
In addition, she called for the deployment of a UN Rapid Deployment Force in Palestine mandated to monitor the implementation of a ceasefire, cessation of hostilities and most importantly, to protect civilians.
“Our common humanity dictates that all human lives matter. The time for the international community to stand together and act is now. We, who enjoy freedom from apartheid, can never ever be the ones who agree to any apartheid form of oppression.
“This brutality should not be accepted. We must call for a ceasefire.” – SAnews.gov.za