President Cyril Ramaphosa urges immediate ceasefire and humanitarian action in Israel-Palestine conflict

Solidarity with Palestine vigil took place at St George’s Cathedral recently. Picture: Tracey Adams, IOL News

Solidarity with Palestine vigil took place at St George’s Cathedral recently. Picture: Tracey Adams, IOL News

Published Oct 16, 2023


President Cyril Ramaphosa has emphasised his call for the immediate end of acts of war between Israel and Palestine in his weekly newsletter on Monday.

He has called for the opening of humanitarian corridors and a United Nations-led negotiation process towards resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This, he said, must lead to a just and lasting peace that satisfied the human rights, dignity and aspirations of all the people on both sides of this conflict.

He highlighted the shared anguish felt by South Africans and people worldwide and stressed South Africa's long-standing commitment to empathy, condemning prejudice and violence irrespective of ethnic, racial, religious, or cultural differences.

“The atrocities witnessed since last week are a painful chapter in a history of suffering, oppression, occupation, and conflict spanning over 75 years,” he said.

He conveyed condolences and sadness to the families affected by the conflict, especially mourning the loss of South African citizens caught in the crossfire.

The president condemned the loss of civilian lives in both Israel and Gaza, emphasising the need for adherence to international law, particularly the Geneva Conventions, which protect non-combatants. He denounced the targeting of civilians, especially vulnerable groups such as women, the elderly, and children.

Ramaphosa further drew parallels between the current conflict and the collective punishment experienced during the apartheid era in South Africa, denouncing acts like cutting essential supplies to civilian populations and the destruction of homes.

He urged the international community to support peace and refrain from exacerbating the conflict. Drawing from South Africa's history of overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges, he emphasised the importance of reconciliation, peace-making, and fulfilling the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to human rights, dignity, and nationhood.

“Without justice, there can be no peace. The cycle of violence that has been unleashed is the tragic outcome of decades of unmet and unfulfilled possibilities to peacefully solve the problem between Israelis and Palestinians.

“The international community has a responsibility to support peace and to create favourable conditions for negotiation and dialogue, and not to fan the flames of conflict. World leaders need to, and must make, a call for peace and not vengeance,” he said.

He concluded with a collective hope that the Israeli and Palestinian people would come together, reconcile, and choose the path of a just peace.

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