4 November 2023
South Africa calls on Israel to adhere to its obligations under international law and protect civilians
Reports from Al Jazeera suggest that Israel may delay the repatriation of countries such as South Africa, Brazil, and Ireland due to these countries having called for a ceasefire in Gaza.
According to reports from the ground in Gaza, Israel is reportedly choosing countries that it considers “friendly” to allow their nationals to leave first. Those countries (such as South Africa) that Israel considers “unfriendly” and which have taken a strong stance on the ongoing onslaught are being pushed to the bottom of the list. At the current slow pace at which the Israelis are approving foreign nationals, the turn for South Africans could be after 20 days.
South Africa calls on Israel once again to adhere to its obligations under international law and protect civilians as required under the Geneva Conventions and under International Humanitarian Law. It is not only foreign nationals who must be allowed to freely exit the Gaza Strip in a timely manner, but it is a war crime for Israel to directly target Palestinian civilians in hospitals, ambulances, schools, apartment buildings, and in their private cars.
At least 9 227 Palestinian civilians have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza since 7 October. More than 1 400 Israelis (settlers and soldiers) have been killed in Israel.
Over the past two days, a school, a hospital, an ambulance, and civilians on roads travelling South have been bombed. The bombing of the ambulance at the gate of al-Shifa hospital on Friday killed 15 people, injuring 16 others. The targeted air strikes on civilians fleeing South killed 14 Palestinian civilians, among them children. These are serious breaches of international humanitarian law and are war crimes. These actions again illustrate the need for an immediate ceasefire as overwhelmingly voted for by members of the United Nations General Assembly.
Ongoing threats by Israel to bomb the al-Shifa and al-Quds hospitals where thousands of displaced civilians are sheltering must be condemned by the international community.
South Africa invested resources together with its IBSA partners (India and Brazil) to build a state-of-the-art cardiothoracic unit at al-Quds hospital over six years ago as Israel at the time was preventing Gazans from leaving to get medical treatment in the West Bank. Threats to bomb the hospital puts this investment at risk, but more importantly, countless human lives.
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