CAPE TOWN, South Africa – During a virtual meeting of developing countries, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa accused Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza. He also condemned Hamas for its attack on Israeli civilians that sparked the conflict. Ramaphosa called the collective punishment of Palestinian civilians by Israel a war crime and likened the denial of basic necessities to genocide.
The leaders of Russia and China, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, respectively, struck a more cautious tone. While they called for a cease-fire and the release of civilian hostages, they refrained from making the same level of criticism as Ramaphosa.
The meeting also included leaders and officials from other BRICS members, such as Brazil and India, as well as Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates. Ramaphosa, as the current chair of BRICS, chaired the meeting and made the opening remarks.
Putin highlighted the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza, expressing shock at the surgeries being performed on children without anesthesia. He attributed the crisis to failed diplomacy by the United States and called for a cease-fire, the release of hostages, and the evacuation of civilians.
Russia has taken a cautious approach to the Israel-Hamas conflict, potentially positioning itself as a global power broker. Putin previously proposed that Moscow could mediate in the conflict due to its relationships with both Israel and the Palestinians. He suggested that the BRICS bloc could play a key role in finding a political settlement.
South Africa has been highly critical of Israel’s actions in Gaza, comparing them to its own apartheid regime. The country has filed a request with the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged war crimes by Israel. Ramaphosa called for the ICC to urgently initiate prosecutions against those responsible for war crimes on both sides.
In a separate development, a majority of South African lawmakers voted to shut down the Israeli Embassy and sever diplomatic ties until Israel agrees to a cease-fire in Gaza.
1. What did South African President Cyril Ramaphosa accuse Israel of?
Ramaphosa accused Israel of committing war crimes and engaging in actions tantamount to genocide in Gaza.
2. What did South African lawmakers vote for?
A majority of South African lawmakers voted to shut down the Israeli Embassy and cut diplomatic ties with Israel until it agrees to a cease-fire in Gaza.
3. What did Russian President Vladimir Putin propose?
Putin proposed that Russia could mediate in the Israel-Hamas conflict due to its relationships with both Israel and the Palestinians.
AP Israel-Hamas war coverage