South Africa joins the international community in expressing its serious concern following the Israeli bombing near the Jordanian field hospital in Gaza on 15 November 2023, which left several hospital staff members wounded as they attempted to treat Palestinian citizens injured by Israel’s bombardment.
South Africa is gravely concerned at the continuous targeting of medical facilities, schools and holy sites that are a source of shelter and protection for the civilian population who bear the brunt of the inhumane attacks in the Gaza Strip.
Among the thousands of civilian victims of the Israeli siege of Gaza is Mr Ahmed Abbasi, head of the Gift of the Givers Foundation office in Gaza, who was targeted by the Israel Defence Force (IDF) whilst returning from morning prayer today, 16 November 2023. Mr Abbasi was killed alongside his brother. South Africa is outraged at the killing of civilians and aid workers.
South Africa continues to maintain that there is no legal, ethical or moral justification for the bombardment of non-combatants and destruction of civilian sites.
Israel, as the occupying power, has a duty to protect civilians in Gaza. It is cruel to endanger the lives of Palestinians who have sought refuge from intense bombardment and gun battles.
According to international humanitarian law (IHL), in particular, the Fourth Geneva Convention, health establishments and units, including hospitals, should not be attacked. This protection extends to the wounded and sick as well as to medical staff and emergency vehicles.
All those responsible for the bombardment of non-combatants, medical facilities and other civilian sites must be held accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity. In the case of the deaths of civilians in Gaza and increasingly now in the West Bank, the crime of genocide must also be investigated.
South Africa echoes the United Nations General Assembly’s resolution that has called for an immediate ceasefire and the immediate opening of humanitarian corridors to allow the provision of food, medical supplies and fuel.
South Africa reiterated its calls on the United Nations to deploy a rapid protection force to protect the civilian population from further bombardment.
South Africa calls for enhanced peace efforts aimed at reviving a political process, leading to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, existing side by side in peace with Israel within internationally recognised borders, based on those existing on 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in compliance with all relevant UN Resolutions, international law and internationally agreed parameters.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of International Relations and Cooperation.