Dirco condemns attack in Gaza Strip

Palestinian protestors attend a protest next to the Gaza Strip border with Israel. (Khalil Hamra, AP)
Palestinian protestors attend a protest next to the Gaza Strip border with Israel. (Khalil Hamra, AP)

The South African government has joined other nations in condemning an attack in the Gaza strip, in which 17 Palestinians were killed last Friday.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) said it maintained its position that the Israeli Defence Force must withdraw from the Gaza Strip and bring to an end the "violent and destructive incursions into Palestinian territory".

"South Africa maintains further that the violence in the Gaza Strip will stand in the way of rebuilding Palestinian institutions and infrastructure," said Dirco spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya.

READ: Gaza toll rises to 17 after Palestinian dies of wounds - ministry

The attack came on the 42nd Land Day in which Palestinians commemorate the 1976 protest over the confiscation of Palestinian land by the Israelis.

Palestinians took to the streets in the Gaza Strip, but were met with violence by the Israeli army.

Dirco minister Lindiwe Sisulu reiterated South Africa's position that those responsible for the deaths should be held accountable.

"The actions of the Israeli armed forces present yet another obstacle to a permanent resolution to the conflict, which must come in the form of two states, Palestine and Israel, existing side-by-side and in peace," Sisulu said in a statement.

"South Africa aligns itself with those members of the United Nations calling for an independent inquiry into the killings, with a view to holding to account those who are responsible."

Reuters quoted Israel's Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman defending its response.

"I warn [Gaza protesters] against continuing the provocation. We have set clear game rules and we do not intend to change them. Every person who comes close to the fence is endangering their lives," he said.

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