South Africa condemns Israel's 'deplorable' Rafah strike

The attack triggered global outrage and an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council


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Photo: Reuters File
Photo: Reuters File

Published: Tue 28 May 2024, 5:03 PM

South Africa on Tuesday condemned as "deplorable" an Israeli strike on Gaza's southern city of Rafah that killed dozens in a displaced persons camp.

The attack, which Palestinian officials said killed 45 people, triggered global outrage and an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

"The South African Government joins the international community in condemning the deplorable and brutal attacks on innocent civilians after Israeli forces bombed a tent camp housing displaced Palestinians," the foreign ministry said.

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It noted that the strike came two days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to end its military offensive in Rafah.

The ICJ's ruling was issued last week as part of a case brought by South Africa alleging that the Israeli military operation in Gaza amounts to "genocide".

Israel has dismissed the ruling, insisting that the court had got it wrong.

"What we are witnessing today bears testimony to South Africa's assertions," the foreign ministry said.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the strike a "tragic accident" but also vowed to push on with the military campaign to destroy Hamas over the October 7 attack and bring home all the hostages.

Israel's retaliatory offensive, in response to a Hamas attack, has killed at least 36,096 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to Gaza's health ministry.

The attack by Hamas resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

The Sunday night strike that killed dozens in the displaced persons camp was targeting two senior Hamas members, the Israeli military said.

But Pretoria said it showed that the issuance of international arrest warrants to bring to justice those responsible for "heinous crimes" committed during the war was "becoming more urgent".

"It is the collective duty of the international community to ensure that atrocities of this nature are duly prosecuted," the foreign ministry said.

The International Criminal Court's prosecutor Karim Khan said earlier this month he had applied for arrest warrants for top Israeli and Hamas leaders over the conflict.


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