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Israel-Hamas Conflict Divides Opinion in Africa

African leaders are calling for a cease-fire, dialogue and the protection of innocent civilians caught between Hamas terrorists and Israeli Defense Forces. The African Union has called for a cessation of hostilities.

Many in Africa are calling for a cease-fire and dialogue between Israel and Palestinians, and more protection of innocent civilians caught between Hamas terrorists and Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The African Union (AU) and South Africa, for instance, have called for a complete cessation of hostilities.

Reactions contrast depending on a given country’s ties with Israel. However, many African leaders have not spoken out openly on the ongoing conflict. Those who have, condemned Hamas terror attacks, while others reiterated calls for a two-state solution.

Kenyan President William Ruto issued a strongly worded statement to condemn the Hamas attacks on Israel and urged the international community to take action against “perpetrators, organizers, financiers, sponsors, supporters and enablers” of what he described as criminal acts of terrorism.

In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, Ruto said, “Kenya joins the rest of the world in solidarity with the State of Israel and unequivocally condemns terrorism and attacks on innocent civilians in the country.”

In an interview with DW, historian Samuel Kiptoo said Kenya and Israel enjoy strong bilateral relations. 

“Whatever happens to Israel is of great interest to Kenya as a country. When Nairobi was attacked in 1998, the Israelis were among the first to show up and rescue people from the debris.”

Angola, Kenya, Guinea-Bissau, and South Africa are among the African countries that have expressed concerns and condemned the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These countries have called for the immediate cessation of hostilities and urged both sides to engage in dialogue.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, chair of the Commission of the African Union, said: “Denial of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, particularly that of an independent and sovereign State, is the main cause of the permanent Israeli-Palestinian tension.”

“The Chairperson urgently appeals to both parties to put an end to military hostilities and to return, without conditions, to the negotiating table.”

‘Countries should not take sides’

For Ibrahim Sendawula, a human rights activist in Kampala, Uganda, taking sides only aggravates the conflict.

“It is surprising to hear European leaders supporting Israel’s attacks instead of calling for peace, and also some people celebrating Hamas attacks on Israel. This is unfortunate,” Sendawula told DW.

Destroyed buildings in Gaza following an Israeli airstrike.

Calls for a cease-fire and a two-state solution

The AU’s Moussa Faki Mahamat called on both parties, “to return, without preconditions, to the negotiating table to implement the principle of two states living side by side.”

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda said: “The breakout of renewed violence in Israel-Palestine is regrettable. Why don’t the two sides implement the two-state solution? To be condemned, in particular, is the practice of targeting civilians and non-combatants by the belligerents.”

President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea-Bissau called for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, lamenting the escalation of violence and loss of human life. 

Embalo added that, “Guinea-Bissau, as a country of peace and with an understanding of war, sincerely regrets this situation in the Gaza Strip.” 

“Unfortunately, there was a bombardment fired by Hamas, but even so, we call on both sides to hold back because there is a lot of human loss,” Embalo stressed.

South Africa offers mediation

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday that he is ready to help mediate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, drawing on South Africa’s experience with conflict resolution. Ramaphosa also called for the immediate and unconditional opening of “humanitarian corridors” in the Middle East so that aid can get to people who urgently need it.

“We remain gravely concerned at the devastating escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the atrocities committed against civilian populations. We call for the immediate cessation of violence and the exercise of restraint,” Ramaphosa said.

Across Africa, the current battles raging in Israeli and Palestinian territory are seen as a continuation of the wider Israel-Palestinian conflict, rather than an isolated fight between the state of Israel and the militant Islamist Hamas group — which Israel, the EU, US and UK all designate as a terror organization. 

Source : DW