On Wednesday, November 15th, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor delivered a compelling call to the international community, urging decisive action against the ongoing violence in Palestine, mainly in Gaza. Speaking to Al Jazeera, Pandor condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza as a “real crime against humanity,” drawing a poignant parallel to the dark era of apartheid in South Africa.
Pandor’s impassioned plea comes against the backdrop of escalating tensions in Gaza, where Israeli airstrikes have caused extensive destruction and loss of life. She emphasized that the global community has witnessed enough tragedy and must now leverage its influence over Israel to bring an end to the violence. Minister Pandor’s comparison of the Palestinian plight to the apartheid experience in South Africa is particularly striking, highlighting the systemic denial of property rights, forced identity documentation, and widespread oppression.
South Africa, which has historically been a staunch advocate for Palestinian rights, took a definitive stand by recalling its diplomats from Israel. This move was in direct response to Israel’s intensive military campaign in Gaza following an attack by Hamas that resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,200 people, predominantly civilians. The Palestinian authorities report that the Israeli response has led to over 11,200 casualties in Gaza, and considering the fact that 50% of the population in Gaza are children, a significant number of casualties are children under the age of 18.
Expressing frustration with the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) inaction, Pandor suggested that South Africa might initiate proceedings against Israel at the ICC. She decried the Israeli siege that has severely restricted access to basic necessities for Gaza’s 2.3 million residents. According to the United Nations, about 70 percent of Gaza’s population has been displaced, with Israeli strikes targeting even those areas designated as safe havens.
Pandor’s statements reflect a broader sentiment within the international community regarding the urgent need for a humanitarian response to the crisis in Gaza. Her comparison to apartheid not only evokes the memory of South Africa’s own struggle against systemic oppression but also serves as a stark reminder of the world’s collective responsibility to oppose human rights violations.
The minister’s call to action underscores the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the challenges faced in achieving a lasting peace. It highlights the critical role of international diplomacy and law in addressing such crises and the importance of holding states accountable for actions that contravene international human rights standards.
The minister’s appeal for intervention not only sheds light on the dire situation in Palestine but also calls for a reevaluation of international strategies in dealing with conflicts that bear resemblance to past injustices.