South Africa calls for UN force to protect civilians in Gaza

Published October 30, 2023
A woman walks with a child as displaced Palestinians, who fled their houses amid Israeli strikes, take shelter at a tent camp at a United Nations-run centre, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, October 30, 2023. — Reuters
A woman walks with a child as displaced Palestinians, who fled their houses amid Israeli strikes, take shelter at a tent camp at a United Nations-run centre, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, October 30, 2023. — Reuters

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

South Africa has long been an advocate for peace in the region, likening the plight of Palestinians to its own 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.

Israel has tightened its blockade and bombardment of Gaza since Hamas fighters stormed into Israel on Oct 7 and killed some 1,400 people.

Palestinians in Gaza reported fierce air and artillery strikes early on Monday.

“Entire generations of families have been wiped out in Gaza over the last three weeks,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

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 in South Africa were killed in their apartment 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.

Medical authorities in Gaza said earlier today that 8,306 people had been killed in the three-week war.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has previously offered to help mediate in the 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.

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