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    South Africa summons Israel envoy over Gaza
    July 17, 2014, 11:08 am

    Palestinians gather around the bodies of the boys of Baker family, at a mosque before their funeral in Gaza City, on July 16, 2014 [Xinhua]

    Palestinians gather around the bodies of the boys of Baker family, at a mosque before their funeral in Gaza City, on July 16, 2014 [Xinhua]

    South Africa has registered a strong protest over the escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine territories, to Israeli Ambassador Arthur Lenk.

    On Wednesday, Lenk was summoned to the South African Foreign Ministry for a meeting with South Africa’s Deputy Foreign Minister Nomaindia Mfeketo, in the absence of Foreign Minister Mashabane who is in Brazil for the 6th BRICS Summit.

    The death toll in Israel’s assault on Gaza has passed 216, including the four boys killed while playing on a beach on Wednesday.

    One Israeli civilian has been killed by mortar fire close to the Gaza border.

    Pretoria has said it “strongly opposes any threat of ground invasion and urged Israel to refrain from making utterances that may worsen the situation”.

    International media coverage of the current Gaza violence has also come under intense scrutiny. A 45000-strong online petition by a pro-Palestine group, also signed by leading thinkers like Noam Chomsky, John Pilger and many others strongly criticized the coverage of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) alleging a pro-Israel bias in their reporting. The petition said it would “like to remind the BBC that Gaza is under Israeli occupation and siege and that Israel is bombing a refugee population”.

    The South African government also called on 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.

    Mfeketo also stressed that South Africa is opposed to any attempt to use the current situation to undermine the Unity Government in Palestine.

    In addition, Pretoria – demanded that Israeli authorities lift all restrictions to the importation of building material and equipment into the Gaza Strip to enable destitute families and the Gaza Administration to re-build homes and infrastructure destroyed by the current and previous Israeli acts of aggression in Palestine.

    “The South African Government also demands the immediate halt to the construction and expansion of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories by the Israeli Government, which violates international law, gravely undermines peace efforts, and threatens the viability of the two-State solution,” said Deputy Minister Mfeketo.

    In response, Lenk explained the State of Israel’s position in the conflict and stated that he would convey the South African Government’s message to his Government.

    Israeli-Palestinian violence has flared in the wake of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, in late June, and the subsequent kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian teenager from East Jerusalem, earlier this month.

    At a Summit this week in Brazil, leaders of the BRICS nations have reiterated their support for “a contiguous and economically viable Palestinian State existing side by side in peace with Israel, within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders based on the 4 June 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital,” said a joint statement.

     

    TBP and Agencies

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