South Africa on Saturday condemned Israeli air strikes on Gaza that have resulted in multiple deaths including a five-year-old child in two days of constant shelling.
Israel on Friday said it killed one of the Islamic Jihad militants’ senior commanders in a surprise daytime air strike on a high-rise building in Gaza City, which drew rocket salvoes in response.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said Israeli air strikes killed 14 people and wounded at least 110 others.
Reacting to the Israeli attacks, the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) said in a statement it “strongly condemns Israeli attacks on Gaza which have over the last 48 hours resulted in the death of over 10 people, including a five-year-old child”.
Dirco added: “It is of particular grave concern that Israeli military statements indicate that the operation would ‘take a long time’ and that the ongoing attacks continue to place innocent civilians at severe risk.
“Attacks that kill innocent civilians have no justification, and they are more abhorrent as they are committed by an occupying power which has besieged the Gaza Strip for over a decade in contravention of international law.
“As an occupying power, Israel has specific obligations in terms of international human rights and humanitarian law, which it continues to breach without being held accountable.”
Dirco said the international community has an obligation to ensure that international law is not violated indiscriminately and to urgently stop the Israeli occupation forces’ repeated attacks against civilians, especially women and children as well as the illegal blockade in Gaza.
“The killing of children by the Israeli Government must urgently be addressed,” said Dirco.
The UN Secretary-General’s report on Children in Armed Conflict states that there has been an alarming increase in grave violations against children, particularly the significant rise in the killing and maiming of children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory by Israeli forces during hostilities, air strikes on densely populated areas and the use of live ammunition during law enforcement operations.
“It is disheartening to note in the report the verification of 2934 grave violations against 1208 Palestinian children and 9 Israeli children,” said the statement.
“Accountability for these violations must be upheld to ensure that these violations do not continue.
“In this regard, South Africa concurs with the Secretary-General’s proposal that action must be taken to include Israel and other groups as listed parties, should they not put in place measures to prevent violations and improve the protection of children.”
SA International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor recently said: “South Africa is concerned at the continued human rights violations in the occupied territories and again reiterates that such violations only contribute to the fostering of hatred.
“Israel’s security and that of its future generations do not lie in the annexation of all Palestinian territories, the imprisonment of Palestinians, the erecting of high concrete walls and checkpoints, or the continued blockade of Gaza.
“Rather it lies in a peaceful and stable neighbour, a sovereign and independent Palestinian State, whose children, like Israeli children, can go to school, play, attend places of worship and compete in sporting activities in peace and security.
“This can be achieved through sustained dialogue, negotiations and mediation, by both sides respecting one another and through compromise and understanding.”