‘No trade assumptions on Israel’

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Gaza1 Reuters. A Palestinian woman walks past buildings destroyed by what police said were Israeli air strikes and shelling in the town of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip August 3, 2014. An Israeli air strike killed at least 10 people and wounded about 30 others on Sunday in a U.N.-run school in the southern Gaza Strip, witnesses and medics said, as dozens died in renewed Israeli shelling of the enclave.The Israeli military declined immediate comment on the attack, the second to hit a school in less than a week. Israel began its air and naval offensive against Gaza on July 8 following a surge of cross-border rocket salvoes by Hamas and other guerrillas, later escalating into ground incursions.

Cape Town - There are no plans to impose trade restrictions on Israel amid its conflict with Palestine, the trade and industry department said on Wednesday.

“We have not yet made any assumptions against Israel. It's not government's call,” said department spokesman Sidwell Medupe.

“People in South Africa are free to trade with Israel and Israel is free to trade with South Africa.”

He said South Africa's trade policy was aligned with its foreign policy, recently highlighted by President Jacob Zuma at the US-Africa summit in Washington.

Twice on Monday Zuma took the opportunity to tell the United States what South Africa's position on Gaza was.

Firstly at a US Chamber of Commerce business forum, he said the country was outraged by the “continued violence that is claiming scores of lives of civilians in Palestine”.

Zuma said there would never be a military solution to the problem and urged both sides to sit and talk so that they could arrive at an internationally agreed solution of two states.

At a National Press Club luncheon, he changed his words a bit, also criticising Hamas.

“We are outraged by the killing of civilians by Israel, some in United Nations shelters,” he said at the time.

“We also condemn the killing of Israeli civilians by Hamas.”

The National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) said on Wednesday it was calling for a boycott of all Woolworths stores because the chain had refused to remove Israeli products from its stores.

NC4P spokesman Edwin Arrison said the coalition was made up of the ANC Youth League, the Muslim Judicial Council, the Congress of SA Trade Unions, and other bodies.

“The call to boycott is due to Woolworths's unwavering support for the apartheid state of Israel, and comes after much research and assessment of the status and level of trade between the chain store and the Israeli state,” Arrison said.

He said the coalition would call for boycotts of other companies once it had conducted further research.

Woolworths responded in a statement on Wednesday that it had no political affiliations.

“We respect our customers' right to make individual purchasing choices, which is why we clearly label every product's country of origin and fully comply with government guidelines on product from Israel,” it stated.

The company said that less than 0.1 percent of their food, mostly imported fresh produce, was sourced from Israel. - Sapa



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