Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim Address the media on the occasion of the Israeli attack on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian relief for Gaza

The South African Government continues to monitor developments with regard to the Israeli military attack, in international waters, on a ship attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, on 31 May 2010. The Republic of South Africa has already added its voice to the increasing international condemnation of Israel’s actions and has followed up its statements by summoning the Israeli Ambassador to a meeting with Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Ms. Sue Van Der Merwe. This was done in order to present a Démarche, registering the Government’s strongest possible protest to the Israeli Government, for its unjustified military action and resultant loss of life inflicted by The State of Israel on a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian relief supplies to Gaza.

The Government also notes that Israel is in the process of releasing and deporting activists detained in the military attack on the ships. Many of these have already arrived in Jordan and Turkey. In this regard, the Government takes note of the willingness of the Jordanian Government to receive the activists and also notes that Turkey has arranged for flights to Israel to bring out many of the released detainees. It is also a great pleasure to confirm that Ms. Gadija Davids, was in fact on one of these flights arranged by the Turkish Government that left Tel Aviv late last night and will in fact tomorrow be landing in South Africa. It should also be noted that Ms Davids is currently with South Africa’s Ambassador to Turkey, Mr. Seokolo in Istanbul.

The South African Government also joins the international community in its call for the siege of Gaza to be immediately lifted. This siege, which has brought untold hardships to the ordinary people of Gaza and made their lives nightmarish, is unconscionable and unsustainable. In this regard, the Government welcomes the decision by Egypt to open the Rafa crossing.

The South African Government also wishes to thank all those South Africans that have voiced their positions and opinions on the latest negative developments in the region. We note that there have been night vigils and demonstrations in many cities against this incident. The Government has taken note of these sentiments and will continue to do whatever is possible to contribute towards finding peace in the region and the creation of an independent, viable Palestinian State, as agreed to by all Parties.

The Republic of South Africa has always stated that a long term solution to the problems of the region can only be achieved through negotiation. What is needed is the creation of a climate of mutual trust and peace. This recent Israeli aggression of attacking the aid flotilla severely impacts on finding a lasting solution to the problems of the region. Therefore, in light of this attack by Israel the South African Government has decided to recall our Ambassador to Israel, Mr Ismail Coovadia, back to South Africa for consultations.

For further information contact Mr Malusi Mogale on 082 675 0380.

Issued by:

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation
460 Soutpansberg Road
Rietondale, Pretoria

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