Statement by Ambassador Baso Sangqu, Permanent Mission of the Republic of South Africa at the Meeting of the Security Council on the Situation between Palestine and Israel – 14 November 2012
We thank you for convening this emergency meeting this evening in response to the deteriorating security situation in Gaza. We also thank Mr. Feltman for his briefing. We are gravely concerned about the on-going escalation in Gaza that has the potential to degenerate into a full scale conflict akin to what we saw in December 2008/January 2009. As this violence in Gaza and in Southern Israel continues and worsens, it threatens to claim even more innocent civilian lives.
It is the responsibility of this Council to respond to threats of international peace and security. The Security Council must send a clear message aimed at de-escalating the tensions and demand an end to both the Israeli attacks and the rocket attacks from Gaza. Our failure to act would call into question the credibility of the Council in addressing this potentially catastrophic situation.
South Africa is particularly alarmed by the extra-judicial killings targeting the Palestinian leadership in Gaza which today claimed the life of Ahmed Al-Jaabari, a leader of Hamas, as well as 5 others. Such extra-judicial assassinations are in contravention of international law and relevant United Nations conventions and only serve to strengthen those who are against peace in the Middle East.
In addition to these targeted assassinations, Israel has launched an ongoing unlawful military operation against the Palestinian people including through several missile air strikes and attacks from the land and sea against civilian areas in Gaza which has resulted in the killing of innocent civilians including women and children.
The public statement by the Israeli Defence Force that more attacks are yet to come is indeed worrying and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. These statements are provocative and irresponsible and instead of ending the violence has incited a further escalation.
South Africa condemns the rocket attacks carried out by Palestinian armed groups from Gaza into Southern Israel and call for its immediate end. These indiscriminate attacks not only place the lives of innocent civilians in danger but also undermine the legitimate cause of the Palestinian people. While recognising Israel’s legitimate right to security, we condemn Israel’s disproportionate use of force that has claimed a significant number of lives within a short space of time.
The people of Gaza have endured serious hardship during the past five years of the Israeli blockade on Gaza. The escalation of the violence will only worsen their already dire situation. The Security Council needs to also act decisively and urgently on the lifting of the illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The United Nations and the international community must act decisively to create the conditions in which the vision of a two-State solution can be realised. Continuing Israeli occupation, destruction of infrastructure, collective punishment and extra-judicial assassinations will make the achievement of peace hard to reach. South Africa reiterates that the only way to bring about peace in the Middle East is to have a comprehensive and unconditional negotiated settlement to end the occupation of the Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese territories. This will contribute towards peace and security throughout the Middle East region.
In conclusion Mr President, the Security Council must urgently send a strong and unified message to the parties to stop the violence before more blood is shed and a full blown war begins.
I thank you.