Former deputy foreign minister Aziz Pahad will lead an envoy to the Middle East to convey South Africa’s concerns regarding the conflict in Gaza. Department of International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane made the announcement on Tuesday, saying South Africa was concerned about “the escalation of violence there, including the endless wanton killing of Palestinian civilians and the destruction of homes in Gaza”.
However, it is still not clear whether the department will be expelling Israeli ambassador in South Africa Arthur Lenk or recalling South Africa’s ambassador to Israel, Sisi Ngombane, despite growing calls from Palestinian solidarity groups locally. More than 500 Palestinians have been killed since Israel’s military campaign on July 7th.
“South Africa will be making a contribution of 1 million dollars (R10.6m), for humanitarian assistance to the people of Palestine,” said DIRCO spokesperson Clayson Monyela.
UN agencies as well as NGO’s and humanitarian organisations are on the ground will be making use of the money that the department has contributed.
“We will be channelling this money through to some of those agencies in particular UN agencies that are already working on the ground providing assistance,” added Monyela.
He said this will be done so more people can be reached, especially the elderly, children and women who have suffered throughout the ordeal.
President Jacob Zuma will also invite Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on a working visit to South Africa to discuss the latest crisis in the Middle East
Last week, DIRCO called for the Israeli army to immediately withdraw from the Gaza Strip and bring to an end the violent and destructive incursions into Palestinian territories. At the same time, it said South Africa equally condemns the continuing firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel.
“Both parties must end all forms of aggression towards one another,” DIRCO stated. VOC (Imogen Vollenhoven)