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No date yet for Gaza team’s departure

Johannesburg - It was not known when South Africa's special envoy would leave for Israel and Palestine, as unrest in the Gaza strip intensifies.

“The date has not yet been finalised,” international relations department spokesman Clayson Monyela said on Wednesday.

Palestinians walk past by a destroyed house minutes after it was hit in an Israeli strike, in Gaza City. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra). Credit: AP

On Tuesday International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane announced President Jacob Zuma's intention to send the team, led by former deputy foreign affairs minister Aziz Pahad.

The department could not divulge details of the team's ground routes for safety reasons.

South Africa plans to pledge US1 million in humanitarian aid to Palestine, through United Nations agencies.

Zuma has undertaken to invite Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on a working visit to South Africa, the African National Congress said earlier.

On Sunday, Zuma called on both the Israel defence force and Hamas militia to stop hostilities. He called on Israel to withdraw troops from the Gaza strip, while at the same time condemning Hamas's firing of rockets into Israel.

Wednesday marked the 16th day of the deadliest violence in the enclave in five years.

News agency Agence France-Presse reported that 649 Palestinians and 31 Israelis had been killed so far.

Sapa

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