The Government of the Republic of South Africa has noted with concern, the Israeli occupation forces assault on the Palestinian worshippers overnight at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. At least seven worshippers sustained injuries during the attacks and 400 Palestinians were arrested. They are being held at a police station in Atarot in East Jerusalem.
South Africa condemns these violent acts by the Israeli government against the worshippers and calls for calm and the withdrawal of the forces from the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The use of stun grenades and tear gas on worshippers is unjust. These actions threaten the internationally agreed status quo in relation to Jerusalem and its sacred sites.
The Palestinian Muslim worshippers have a right to practice their religion in peace, without fear or intimidation of the Israeli police. Al-Aqsa Mosque belongs to all Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims, and they do not require permission or approval from the Israeli government to enter or pray in the Mosque.
These actions undermine all peace efforts and may lead to an explosion in the region. The year 2022 has been described as the deadliest year for Palestinians since the United Nations started tracking fatalities in 2005. More than 200 Palestinians were killed during the Israeli attacks last year.
Israel as the occupying power has specific obligations in terms of the international human rights and humanitarian law to protect Palestinians. However, the Israeli government continues to breach these obligations with no accountability.
The South African Government remains unequivocally committed to and values efforts aimed at reviving a political process, leading to ending the occupation so that the human rights of all are secured.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of International Relations and Cooperation.