It is reported that at least one South African has been kidnapped by Hamas in Israel and is being held hostage in Gaza.
BBC reported that the Israeli government said a South African is among the 224 hostages being held by Hamas. According to other reports, two South Africans may be held hostage. However, the South African government has not yet given any confirmation of this. It was confirmed earlier that two South Africans died in the violence.
Fighting in the war-torn Gaza Strip, meanwhile, raged for a 20th day following Hamas militants’ surprise attack on Israel, which Israeli officials said killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians.
According to Gaza’s health ministry, which is run by Hamas, more than 7,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s counterattacks.
EU leaders on Thursday asked for interruptions in order to get humanitarian aid into Gaza, while the United Nations (UN) requested a ceasefire.
The 27-nation European bloc has long been divided between more pro-Palestinian members such as Ireland and Spain, and staunch supporters of Israel, including Germany and Austria.
The bloc called for an international peace conference to be held soon to discuss how to find a lasting two-state solution.
The UN has warned that it is “nowhere safe” in Gaza as Israel has stepped up its bombardment in preparation for a widely expected ground offensive.
The Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, condemned Israel’s Gaza offensive as a “war of revenge”, a day after he met with members of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Meanwhile, US lawmakers passed a resolution expressing solidarity with Israel in its war with Hamas.