'Irony' as Herzog commemorates Rwanda genocide as Israel carries out atrocities in Gaza

'Irony' as Herzog commemorates Rwanda genocide as Israel carries out atrocities in Gaza
Isaac Herzog flew to Rwanda to commemorate the 1994 genocide, while Israel stands accused of similar crimes in Gaza, where tens of thousands have been killed.
3 min read
08 April, 2024
Herzog has been criticised for commemorating the 1994 Rwanda genocide as Israel commits atrocities in the Gaza Strip [Getty/file photo]

Pro-Palestinian activists have pointed out the irony of Israel’s recent commemoration of the 1994 Rwanda genocide, as Tel Aviv continues to indiscriminately kill and displace people in the Gaza Strip, six months after the start of the war.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog flew to the east African country on Sunday to participate in a ceremony remembering those who were killed in the massacres 30 years ago, as well as to advocate for the release of the remaining Israeli hostages held in Gaza.

Herzog’s office said the President is expected to meet with dignitaries to discuss the hostages and to "highlight the necessity to the joint fight against terrorism worldwide", as cited by The Times of Israel.

The Israeli head of state, who is on his first state visit to the African continent since the outbreak of the war in Gaza half a year ago, also laid a wreath at the Rwandan genocide memorial in the capital Kigali.

Rwanda is currently commemorating 30 years since the harrowing events took place, where Hutu extremists targeted the Tutsi ethnic group, killing an estimated 800,000 to 1 million people in the space of 100 days.

In a speech, President Paul Kagame blamed the international community’s inaction for allowing the genocide to happen.

However, pro-Palestinian activists have slammed Herzog and called out the irony of the visit, as Israel continues to commit similar atrocities in the Gaza Strip, where at least 33,207 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed.

Author Mitchell Plitnick called Herzog’s visit "obscene" as he is a "full participant and supporter of the Gaza genocide".

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Mark Seddon, a journalist and previous speechwriter to the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, said: "Unbelievably, President Herzog of Israel at a Rwanda Genocide commemoration demonstrating that he does not comprehend the word 'irony'".

In December, South Africa accused Israel of committing a genocide against Gaza’s Palestinians at the International Court of Justice, which was followed by a hearing which ruled that Israel must do all it can to stop carrying out such acts against Palestinians.

Additionally, others pointed out the irony of Israel having good ties with Rwanda's previous Hutu extremist government which carried out the Tutsi genocide – as Herzog commemorated the horrific events.

Over the years, various reports have emerged claiming that the Israeli government had provided military support to the Hutu-led regime during the Rwandan Civil War which lasted from 1990 to 1994, and continued to supply the group with arms as it carried the genocide.

Israel has remained tight-lipped over to the number of arms exports it made between 1990 and 1995. In 2016, the country’s Supreme Court ruled that documents revealing such details would remain sealed, reported The Times of Israel, despite a request two years prior urging Israel’s Defence Ministry to detail the nature of arms exports made during that period to the east African country.

Israel and Rwanda share diplomatic relations, with Tel Aviv opening an embassy in 2019, offering to boost the country in fields such as agriculture, cybersecurity and health.

Many experts and NGOs say that Israel is carrying out a genocide in Gaza. Its indiscriminate airstrikes have left the territory in ruins and scores of Palestinians are still being killed every day. Gaza's residents are also being deprived of basic needs such as food, water and medicine by an Israeli siege.