President Jacob Zuma is to send a delegation led by former Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad, to Israel to convey South Africa's concerns over the mounting loss of civilian lives through Israel's invasion of the Gaza strip, according to a report from the Johanassburg-based South Africa Dot Info. The delegation, according to several sources, includes the International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who confirmed the trip to reporters in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Tabling her department's budget vote in Parliament, Nkoana-Mashabane also announced that South Africa would soon be donating US$1-million to assist with humanitarian efforts in Gaza, and that Zuma would be inviting Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas for a working visit to South Africa.
Her announcement comes amid growing calls for the United Nations Security Council to act within the ambit of international law to prevent the violent attacks on the people of Palestine which have left many civilians dead.
"The senseless killing of women and children must stop now," Nkoana-Mashabane said. "We must silence the guns. In this respect, President Zuma will be dispatching a team led by our former Deputy Minister Mr Aziz Pahad, to Israel and Palestine to convey our growing concern with the escalation of violence there, including the endless wanton killing of Palestinian civilians and the destruction of homes in Gaza." "We will also be contributing $1-million for human assistance to Palestinian women and children through UN agencies in the nearest future."
In a media briefing earlier, the minister conveyed her condolences to the people of Palestine who had lost their loved ones during the recent escalation of violence, and called for the Israeli military to withdraw, calling their invasion illegal and inhumane.