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South Africa Accuses Israel of War Crimes and Genocide

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa accused Israel of war crimes and “genocide” in Gaza on Tuesday, as he presided over an exceptional meeting of the BRICS group of nations.

Pretoria is hosting a virtual conference of the BRICS — a group of major developing economies comprised of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — to develop a united approach to the Israel-Hamas crisis.

“The collective punishment of Palestinian civilians through the unlawful use of force by Israel is a war crime. The deliberate denial of medicine, fuel, food and water to the residents of Gaza is tantamount to genocide,” Ramaphosa said.

Fighting has erupted in Gaza after Hamas gunmen killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, during cross-border incursions on October 7 – Israel’s bloodiest attack in its history.

In response, Israel started an all-out air assault and ground offensive in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas.

According to Hamas, the battle has killed over 13,300 people, including thousands of children.

On Tuesday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said a peace agreement with Israel was in the works, with mediator Qatar saying talks to free hostages held by the Palestinian Islamist organization were at their “closest point” to a conclusion.

Ramaphosa demanded a “immediate and comprehensive ceasefire” and the deployment of a United Nations force “to monitor the cessation of hostilities and protect civilians.”

“As individual countries, we have demonstrated our grave concern at the death and destruction in Gaza,” he told the summit.

“Let this meeting stand as a clarion call for us to combine our efforts and strengthen our actions to end this historical injustice.”

South Africa has long been a prominent supporter of the Palestinian cause, with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party frequently tying it to its anti-apartheid campaign.

Pretoria recalled all of its diplomats from Israel earlier this month, and this week it joined four other countries in demanding for an International Criminal Court probe into the violence.

On Monday, Israel’s foreign ministry said that its ambassador to Pretoria had been summoned for discussions.

Written by PH

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