Mourners carry the body of a Palestinian victim who was killed during clashes on the Gaza-Israel border, in Gaza City. Picture: Xinhua

Johannesburg - As the international community expresses outraged at the latest developments in Gaza and urges restraint, the South African government has weighed in and strongly condemned the latest act of violent aggression carried out by Israeli armed forces in Gaza. 

These actions has led to the deaths of at least 19 Palestinian citizens, with scores of others reported injured. 

The view of the government of South Africa is that the Israeli Defence Force must withdraw from the Gaza Strip and bring to an end the violent and destructive incursions into the Palestinian territories. 

South Africa maintains further that the violence in the Gaza Strip will stand in the way of rebuilding Palestinian institutions and infrastructure.

Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu said this week: "The actions of the Israeli armed forces present yet another obstacle to a permanent resolution to the conflict, which must come in the form of two states, Palestine and Israel, existing side-by-side and in peace.

"South Africa aligns itself with those members of the United Nations calling for an independent inquiry into the killings, with a view to holding to account those who are responsible," Sisulu said.

Human rights groups have said the deaths involved live fire against unarmed demonstrators posing no immediate threat to life. 

Israel says it is doing what is necessary to defend its border, and warned Palestinians not to go near the fence as they would be endangering their lives.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for an independent investigation into the deaths.

The 19 Palestinians who have been killed and the hundreds of others wounded were demanding the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their villages where they were driven out by Israel 70 years ago. 

Tens of thousands of Palestinians began a six-week long protest last Friday in tent encampments along the fenced border of the Israeli blockaded Gaza strip. The protest will continue until May 15.

Independent Foreign Service