South African deputy minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Alvin Botes, says the country remains deeply concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Palestine caused by Israel’s continued occupation.
Speaking on Wednesday at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Ministerial Meeting of the Coordinating Bureau (CoB) on Palestine in Baku, Azerbaijan, Botes said: “The demolition of Palestinians’ properties, continued illegal settlement and expansion by Israel of Palestine territories, forced evictions of Palestinians by the Israeli army from their territories, as well as collective punitive measures, will not bring about peace.”
An operation by the Israeli Defence Forces, which was unleashed this week on the Jenin refugee camp – a Palestinian militant stronghold in the Israeli-occupied West Bank – has killed at least 12 Palestinians during the fatal raid.
Botes described the event as a contravention of international humanitarian law.
“This illustrates the extent that Israel is prepared to entrench its illegal occupation. What is worse is the impunity that Israel enjoys. This has emboldened the Israeli government to do as it wishes, in clear contravention of international law.
“These events, including the alarming increase in illegal settlements and the international response, or lack thereof, clearly shows that the so-called international rules-based system … is selectively applied in some cases and ignored in others,” the Minister added.
He stressed South Africa’s “unwavering” support for the freedom of the Palestinian people, which he said was informed by the country’s history and experience in the fight against colonialism and apartheid.
“We remain steadfast to play a constructive role in this regard and ensure that the people of Palestine achieve their right to peace, sovereignty, freedom and justice. Their struggle for freedom has always historically been connected to our own,” Botes maintained.