South Africa urges UN to provide protection for civilians in Gaza

South Africa urges UN to provide protection for civilians in Gaza
South Africa’s foreign ministry said that that the global community should hold Israel accountable for breaches of international law
2 min read
01 November, 2023
South Africa said Israel should be held accountable for breaches of international law [Getty]

South Africa called for the United Nations on Monday to deploy a rapid protection force to protect Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip from further bombardment- as Israel steps up its indiscriminate retaliation for a deadly attack by Hamas.

8,796 Palestinians, including 3,648 children, have been killed so far, with hundreds more dying every day in Israeli strikes.

Nearly 1,400 Israelis were killed in the surprise Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

In addition, more than 122 Palestinians have been killed in the occupied West Bank by Israeli forces since 7 October.

"Entire generations of families have been wiped out in Gaza over the last three weeks," South Africa's foreign ministry said in a statement.

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A member of the Palestinian community in Johannesburg had 25 family members killed in an Israeli air strike on Monday morning, the statement said, while family members of a senior Palestinian diplomat based in Pretoria were killed in their Gaza residential building the day before.

"The numbers of non-combatants killed, especially the numbers of children killed, requires that the world to show that it is serious about global accountability," the statement said.

The statement stressed the need to hold Israel accountable for breaches of international law and further denounced the "inhuman" killing of children by Israeli strikes.

The ministry included a quote from a report by UK-based charity Save the Children, which said the number of children killed in Gaza over the last three weeks had surpassed the number of children killed yearly across every conflict zone since 2019.

Save the Children added that since children are non-combatants, those who are responsible for their deaths must be held to account for war crimes and crimes against humanity adding that the crime of genocide should be investigated.

The charity emphasised that Israel was responsible for the disproportionate number of civilian deaths in Gaza.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has previously offered to help mediate in the Israel-Gaza conflict. South Africa also said earlier this month that its foreign minister held a call with the leader of Hamas about getting aid into Gaza, while underlining that it did not support the group.

South Africa has long been an advocate for peace in the region, likening the plight of Palestinians to the plight of its own population under the apartheid regime that ended in 1994.

In calling for a protection force, South Africa has gone further in its support for the Palestinians than most nations, some of which have called for a ceasefire or the opening of a humanitarian corridor to allow aid into Gaza.