Johannesburg - Israel's ambassador to South Africa, Arthur Lenk, has been asked to inform his government about South Africa's stance regarding the unrest between Israel and the Palestinians, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) said on Wednesday.
After being earlier summoned by Dirco, Lenk met with the department's deputy minister, Nomaindia Mfeketo, said Dirco spokesman Clayson Monyela.
Lenk was asked to explain the Israeli air strikes in Gaza.
Monyela said Mfeketo expressed the country's “grave concern” over the escalating deadly violence between Israel and Palestinian territories.
She called for immediate, genuine talks between the two nations.
“Through ambassador Lenk, the SA government called on the State of Israel to immediately cease its air strikes into the Gaza strip, allow safe and free passage of civilians and make it possible for humanitarian organisations to work on alleviating the suffering of victims of the violence,” said Monyela.
Mfeketo told Lenk that the country strongly opposed any threat of ground invasion and urged the State of Israel to refrain from making utterances that may worsen the situation.
“The deputy minister stressed that SA is opposed to any attempt to use the current situation to undermine the unity government in Palestine whose advent was warmly welcomed by peace-loving people the world over.”
The country called for Israeli authorities to lift all restriction to the importation of building material and equipment in the Gaza strip and allow destitute families to rebuild their homes and other infrastructure destroyed in the unrest.
Mfeketo also demanded the immediate halt to the construction and expansion of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories by the Israeli government.
She said this violated international law, gravely undermined peace efforts, and threatened the viability of the two-state solution.
News agency Agence France-Presse reported that the death toll in Gaza had risen to around 200.
Gaza officials reportedly said 560 homes had been destroyed, and thousands of buildings damaged after a week of fighting and air strikes.
The latest surge in violence was sparked by the kidnapping and murders of three Israeli teenagers and the revenge killing of a Palestinian youth. - Sapa