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South Africa: SA Calls On Israel to Protect Civilians and Fast-Track Repatriation As Tension Flares

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) has once again called on Israel to adhere to its obligations under international law and protect civilians as required under the Geneva Conventions and under International Humanitarian Law.

This comes after reports from Al Jazeera suggested that Israel may delay the repatriation of nationals from countries such as South Africa, Brazil and Ireland due to these countries having called for a ceasefire in Gaza.

“According to reports from the ground in Gaza, Israel is reportedly choosing countries that it considers ‘friendly’ to allow their nationals to leave first.

“Those countries such as South Africa, which Israel considers ‘unfriendly’ and which have taken a strong stance on the ongoing onslaught are being pushed to the bottom of the list. At the current slow pace at which the Israelis are approving foreign nationals, the turn for South Africans could be after 20 days,” DIRCO said in a statement.

The department said it believes that it is not only foreign nationals who must be allowed to freely exit the Gaza Strip in a timely manner.

According to the latest data, the department said at least 9 227 Palestinian civilians have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza since 7 October.

Meanwhile, more than 1 400 Israelis, including settlers and soldiers, have been killed in Israel.

“Over the past few days, a school, a hospital, an ambulance, and civilians on roads travelling South have been bombed.

“The bombing of the ambulance at the gate of Al-Shifa Hospital on Friday killed 15 people, injuring 16 others,” the department said.

It said the targeted air strikes on civilians fleeing South killed 14 Palestinian civilians, among them children.

“These are serious breaches of international humanitarian law and are war crimes. These actions again illustrate the need for an immediate ceasefire, as overwhelmingly voted for by members of the United Nations General Assembly.”

Meanwhile, the department said ongoing threats by Israel to bomb the Al-Shifa and Al-Quds hospitals, where thousands of displaced civilians are sheltering, must be condemned by the international community.

“South Africa invested resources, together with its IBSA partners, India and Brazil, to build a state-of-the-art cardiothoracic unit at Al-Quds Hospital over six years ago, as Israel at the time was preventing Gazans from leaving to get medical treatment in the West Bank. Threats to bomb the hospital put this investment at risk, but more importantly, countless human lives,” DIRCO said.

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