South Africa denounces Israel’s hostage rescue operation at Nuseirat Refugee Camp that killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians
06/12/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

South Africa has condemned Israel’s attacks on the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza during the hostage rescue mission they carried out over the weekend, which reportedly killed more than 270 Palestinians and injured nearly 700.

The country is now calling on the rest of the world to act swiftly to put an end to the hostilities there and prevent further loss of life.

The incident in question is the widely publicized rescue mission that saw Israel Defense Forces commandos rescuing four Israeli hostages from Hamas captivity. However, saving those four people involved land, sea and air strikes in a crowded area where refugees had been staying, with bombardment intended at least partly to shield the hostages and Israeli forces as they brought them to safety. Many news reports about the rescue operation have been downplaying the loss of life.

Most of the injured are women and children, according to reports from the ground, while Doctors Without Borders has been working with nearby hospitals to help an “overwhelming number of severely injured patients.”

The South African government called the attack, which was carried out “on innocent civilians in a designated safe zone,” one of the “single worst massacres committed by the Israeli occupation forces in Gaza.”

They added: “We are appalled that these attacks are being praised by some, for saving four Israeli hostages, while killing and severely injuring hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians.”

The South African government went on to ask whether Israelis even believe that the lives of Palestinian people are worth protecting given some of the statements made by Israeli officials celebrating the operation.

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“While families mourn the loss of life, Israeli Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, jubilantly termed the operation “daring in nature, planned brilliantly, and executed in an extraordinary fashion.” This once again raises the question of whether some believe that Palestinian lives matter,” the statement added.

The operation took place during daylight while the market in Nuseirat was crowded with people. Those present described the scene as being “like the horrors of judgment day” as panicked people tried to flee the hours-long assault. Images from the area show dead bodies strewn along the streets, and emergency room doctors from nearby hospitals recounted how they received injured people of all ages with all types of injuries. The hospital was so packed that they had to put some people in tents outdoors.

South Africa leading the way in International Court of Justice genocide case against Israel

South Africa has long been a vocal critic of Israel’s actions in Gaza, filing a case with the United Nations International Court of Justice accusing Israel of committing genocide last December. Although they initially stood alone on this front, they have since been joined by countries such as Ireland, Spain, Mexico, Egypt, Nicaragua, Libya and Colombia.

South Africa is arguing that Israel is violating the 1948 Genocide Convention, which was enacted after the Holocaust and is aimed at preventing future genocide. Genocide is defined by the treaty as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group." The case could take several years to reach a final ruling.

However, the International Court of Justice ruled in May that Israel must “immediately halt its military offensive” in the southern Gaza city of Rafah where more than a million displaced Palestinians have been sheltering.

So far, more than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in eight months of fighting, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, while nearly 84,000 people have been injured.

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