South Africa’s foreign minister, Naledi Pandor, stated on Tuesday that she had a conversation with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to address humanitarian assistance for Palestinians. However, she strongly rejected accusations of supporting the militants’ attack on Israel. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) reported that Minister Pandor and the Hamas leader discussed the means to deliver essential humanitarian aid to Gaza and other parts of the Palestinian Territories. The ministry firmly condemned allegations in local media that the South African government supported the attack on Israel, emphasizing that such claims were untrue and meant to tarnish the reputation of the Minister and the South African government.
The situation in the region involved Israel declaring war on Hamas after the group’s fighters breached the heavily fortified Gaza border on October 7. Israel also took hostages, launched air strikes on Gaza causing casualties, and imposed a siege on the territory, along with other measures. South Africa reiterated its solidarity and support for the people of Palestine during the call and expressed sorrow for the loss of innocent lives, both Palestinians and Israelis. It’s important to note that South Africa maintains bilateral ties with the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas, and their support for the Palestinian struggle against occupation should not be equated with support for Hamas. Additionally, President Cyril Ramaphosa and several African National Congress (ANC) officials expressed solidarity with the Palestinians over the weekend.
Various pro-Palestine and pro-Israel protests have occurred in South Africa.