South Africa on Friday condemned Israel for blockading Gaza and denying food, water, electricity, and fuel to millions in the densely populated Palestinian enclave.
The Foreign Ministry, called the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), in a statement said it “condemns in the strongest possible terms Israel’s violation of the Geneva Conventions and the abandonment of International Humanitarian Law in Gaza.”
Pretoria said Israel’s announcement of giving 1.1 million residents just 24 hours to leave northern half of the Gaza Strip to relocate to the south will lead to a humanitarian crisis.
“According to humanitarian organizations on the ground, there are not enough resources to host so many IDPs in other governorates – not enough shelter, aid or water,’’ the statement said.
South Africa said Israel’s continued bombardments from the air, sea, and land have continued and intensified across the Gaza Strip, calling it an egregious violation of international humanitarian law.
Pretoria called on Israel to immediately heed the calls of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to allow crucial life-saving supplies, including fuel, food and water into Gaza. It also called for the release of Israeli hostages taken into Gaza.
The conflict began last Saturday when Hamas initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood against Israel, a multi-pronged surprise attack including a barrage of rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel via land, sea, and air.
Hamas said the offensive was in retaliation for the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and Israeli settlers’ growing violence against Palestinians.
The Israeli military then launched Operation Swords of Iron against Hamas targets within the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s response has extended into cutting water and electricity supplies to Gaza, further worsening the living conditions in an area that has reeled under a crippling siege since 2007.
The UN relief agency for Palestinians has described the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza as “bone-chilling,” saying it is fast becoming a hell hole and is on the brink of collapse.