It has never been a secret who the ANC sides with when it comes to the tension between Israel and the Palestinians.
But now that it is raining missiles in the Gaza Strip, the ruling party says South Africa’s history with apartheid is the Palestinians’ reality.
Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri, national spokesperson of the ANC, now says in response to Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel that this country is a “blatant apartheid state that methodically enforces privilege on behalf of Jewish Israelis and discriminates against Palestinians”.
“As a result, the decision by Palestinians to respond to the brutality of the settler Israeli apartheid regime is not surprising. The ANC stands with the people of occupied Palestinian territory as it is clear that the degenerated security situation is directly related to the illegal Israeli occupation,” says Bhengu-Motsiri.
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) is meanwhile asking that both sides stop the violence immediately and that peace be established between Israel and the Palestinians.
The department appears to be strongly opposed to the violence, but nevertheless in favor of Palestine.
A spokesperson for Dirco says South Africa “seeks to secure lasting peace that will produce a viable, contiguous Palestinian state that can exist in peace alongside Israel, within the 1967 internationally recognized borders, and with East Jerusalem as its capital.
However, the spokesperson says that violence, forced relocations and the ongoing siege of Gaza are not conducive to resolving the conflict. “Urgent attention must be paid to the resolution of the final status issues such as borders, the status of Jerusalem, the release of political prisoners and the right of return.
“No real and lasting peace in Israel, Palestine and the region is possible in the absence of a fair and comprehensive solution to the conflict. Israelis, Palestinians and the region have nothing to gain from increased tension, increasing violence, growing instability and a continued and protracted violent conflict.”
According to the spokesperson, South Africa is more than willing “to share its experience in mediation and conflict resolution as it has done on the continent and around the world”.
At least 700 Israelis have already died, including at least 250 at an outdoor concert, since Hamas launched an attack on Saturday. Israel’s counter-attack claimed the lives of around 430 people.
“More than 123,000 people in the Gaza Strip have since been left without a place to live and live in fear and with concerns about their safety and the possible destruction of their homes,” said the UN’s humanitarian agency, OCHA.
More than 73,000 people are currently sheltering in schools.
“We are still fighting,” Richard Hecht, Israel’s military spokesman, said on Monday morning as Hamas fighters launched attacks in at least seven locations for a third day.
“By yesterday we thought we would have full control,” says Hecht. “I hope we will (have full control) by the end of the day.”
Several countries, including Poland, have already begun to remove their citizens from Israel. Three military planes carrying Polish residents in Israel landed in Warsaw on Monday morning.
On the first flight, 120 people were Polish citizens stranded at Tel Aviv airport. Two other flights followed.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned civilians in Gaza to get away from all Hamas areas as they are likely to be reduced to rubble.
Iran denies involvement
Iran is currently siding with the Palestinians and has even labeled Hamas’s attack as “a proud operation”.
On Monday, however, the country rejected allegations that it had a hand in the attack launched by Hamas on Israel.
“The accusations related to an Iranian role… are based on political reasons,” says Nasser Kanani, spokesman for the Iranian Department of Foreign Affairs. Kanani also said Palestinians have “the necessary capacity and will to defend their nation and restore their rights” without help from Tehran.