Cape Town - Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba has joined mounting calls for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and the opening of humanitarian corridors in the face of a humanitarian catastrophe in the besieged Gaza Strip.
On Friday, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce” between Israel and Hamas, and the “continuous, sufficient and unhindered” provision of life-saving supplies and services in Gaza.
Despite this, Israel expanded and intensified its military aggression in Gaza. To date, more than 8 000 Palestinians have been killed as a result of the Israeli bombardment. With a population of more than 2 million people, Gaza is considered one of the most densely-populated areas.
It has been under an illegal blockade by Israel for 16 years, restricting the movement of goods and people in and out of the region.
The already dire situation in Gaza was compounded when Israel halted the supply of water, food, and fuel, as a result of the attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7, in which about 1 400 Israelis were killed and more than 200 were taken hostage.
Makgoba in a statement called fcalled for an immediate cessation of violence in Gaza and Israel, the establishment of humanitarian corridors to allow food, water, medical supplies and electricity to be restored in Gaza, and the unconditional release of hostages.
“The rhetoric of the parties to the conflict, demonising their enemies as inhuman, is frightening in its familiarity to South Africans who lived under apartheid. For as our Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard, it gave licence to soldiers on the ground to ignore the professed assurances of humane treatment by their leaders and to commit gross violations of people's human rights. Dehumanising rhetoric leads to crimes against humanity and, in Rwanda, it even led to genocide,” Makgoba said.
“Just as we condemn Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, and the horrific October 7 attacks on civilians – reminiscent of the pogroms carried out against Jews in the past – so too we condemn the Israeli attacks on Gaza which Amnesty International has documented as unlawful and indiscriminate, leading to mass civilian casualties,” Makgoba said.
“The occupation of the West Bank of the Jordan has to be ended and the Palestinians given the right of self-determination there and in Gaza. Equally, Israelis need to be able to live in peace and security.”
In September, the Anglican Church of SA’s provincial standing committee declared Israel an apartheid state. At the annual meeting presided over by Makgoba, a resolution on the matter was passed without any opposing votes.
The resolution endorsed a decision by the National Executive Committee of the SA Council of Churches to declare Israel an apartheid state.
The Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation was also among recent prominent organisations calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
“We have seen the devastating images coming out of Gaza over the last weeks – the death toll rising dramatically each day, thousands of missiles striking, the cutting off of crucial communication lines and essential aid, and now the alarming demolition of Palestinian neighbourhoods.
“We call for an immediate ceasefire, which is crucial to the protection of human lives, and the security of Palestinian people. It is also crucial to the safety of the remaining Israeli hostages.”