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KENNETH MOKGATHLE | SA not an honest broker in Palestine versus Israel war

An aerial view shows houses and buildings destroyed by Israeli strikes in Gaza City on Tuesday.
An aerial view shows houses and buildings destroyed by Israeli strikes in Gaza City on Tuesday.

SA missed yet anotherNopportunity this week to play a meaningful role, directly and positively, in addressing the historic Israel-Palestine impasse.

It’s becoming clearer by the day that Israel will always be guilty in the eyes of Pretoria, that it is a given that the SA government will not be an honest broker if given a chance because of its leaning so obviously towards one side of the conflict, that of Palestine.

It was good and necessary to condemn both Israel and Hamas for the ongoing killings and abductions of innocents. It is, however, not appropriate to attempt to justify the barbaric and cowardly actions of Hamas. We cannot justify any killing or abduction of a single life; it is immoral and should be punishable.

American film director, Oliver Stone, once said, “The first casualty of war is innocence.”

These words are true regarding the shocking visuals we saw last Saturday when Hamas brutally killed hundreds of Israelis and took more than 130 as hostages into the Gaza Strip.

Hamas is threatening to kill those kidnapped whenever the Israel Defence Force (IDF) launches an air strike. After Hamas’s massive surprise attack, we are witnessing Israel’s reprisals.

The combined death toll at the weekend was more than 2,000 and behind these numbers are people – mostly children, the elderly, women and the disabled. There are those who wish to defend or justify the brutal actions of the Hamas terrorist group, guilty of the killing of many hundreds of Israelis and abducting of scores of vulnerable people, the elderly and infirm pulled from their wheelchairs, babies paraded in cages in the Gaza streets while onlookers cheered.

The cruelty shown by Hamas in the past week constitutes terrorism in its totality. How can one justify the killing of young people at a musical festival, where more than 260 were mown down?

Many citizens of other countries have also been killed or abducted by Hamas. It has been a pogrom, one which obviously reminds Jewish people of the massacres that took place in Eastern Europe during the early 1900s and of the Holocaust, where about six million Jews were killed during World War 2.

It should not be happening. It is flabbergasting to watch SA take a backseat in all this. We were supposed to be the world’s voice of reason. The SA government is rendering itself useless when it should be positively using its reputation and experience to help bring about peace and stability to those in conflict with one another.

It is nonsensical and morally cowardly for SA to think of simplyi ssuing a statement claiming to be supporting Palestine when it could be presiding over negotiations to permanently end the tensions between the Israelis and Palestine.

For the ANC-led government to offer its diplomatic assistance is disingenuous; it is quite obvious it will be biased towards the side it has already picked. One wonders if our government knows or even cares about the South Africans who are caught up in this tragic situation in view of the SA embassy having been downgraded because of SA’s siding with Palestine.

In situations like this citizens expect the ir embassies to assist.

Mokgatlhe is an independentwriter and political commentator

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