9 December 2023
South Africa condemns the proposed march by the ultra-nationalist organisations to the Al-Aqsa compound and the ongoing massacres in Gaza
The Government of the Republic of South Africa has noted with concern the Israeli police decision to allow a proposed march by ultranationalist organisations and other groups in Jerusalem’s Old City and the Islamic Quarter, calling for the “re-establishment of Jewish control” over the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The demand by the marchers goes against the historical and legal status quo of the occupied Jerusalem and its holy sites. The Administration Department of Awqaf and Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs/Jerusalem of the Jordanian Ministry of Endowments is the only recognised authoritative entity with the responsibility to manage the affairs of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
If allowed to go ahead, these unacceptable actions will coincide with an already alarming war on the Gaza Strip and may without a doubt further exacerbate the current situation on the ground and by implication, the whole region.
Since 2003 to date, raids on Al-Aqsa by far-right organisations and individuals, including by Israeli senior leaders, have been allowed to continue unabated by the Israeli police with the unilateral decision of Israel and the initiatives of some far-right organisations. Israel as the occupying power has specific obligations in terms of international human rights and humanitarian law, in particular concerning holy sites. However, the Israeli Government continues to breach these obligations with no accountability.
South Africa is also gravely distraught about the kidnapping of 100 unarmed Palestinian men, including children as young as 15 years old. The men and children were kidnapped by Israeli occupation forces from a school sheltering displaced refugees in the northern Gaza Strip, it is inconceivable that women and children had to witness the men who were taken from an environment that was meant to be their place of safety being stripped naked and humiliated.
South Africa commends the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Mr Antonio Guterres, for taking the rightful decision to invoke Article 99 of the UN Charter, to push for a Gaza cease-fire. Article 99 which was last invoked during fighting in 1971 that led to the creation of Bangladesh and its separation from Pakistan until now, is a clear indication that Israel’s current bombardment on Gaza is a threat to international peace and security. South Africa also concurs with the Secretary-General’s assertion that the situation in Gaza is at risk of a “complete collapse” of the territory’s humanitarian system and civil order.
The South African Government calls on the international community to take immediate action to put an end to ongoing Israeli violations in the occupied territories and for Israel to commit to reviving a political process, leading to ending the occupation so that the human rights of all are secured.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road