Palestinians look at the destruction of a house in the aftermath of a strike amid the conflict with Israel in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, October 12, 2023. [REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa]
An overwhelming majority of lawmakers in the National Assembly (NA) backed a motion to shut the Israeli embassy in Pretoria. While Tuesday’s vote was not binding, the final decision lay in the Union Buildings. This came as Hamas and Israel reached a four-day truce.
A total of 248 MPs voted in favour of the Economic Freedom Fighters-sponsored motion. There were no abstentions, and 91 votes against the motion.
The African National Congress (ANC), National Freedom Party (NFP) and Al-Jama’ah (AJ) were among those in favour, while the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Freedom Front Plus (FF+) disagreed with the motion.
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina was unapologetic about the ruling party’s support for Palestine as it came under attack from an occupying force. She rebuked arguments that some had a religious obligation to support apartheid Israel.
“We are not ashamed to support Palestine fully … This Israel is not of Jesus, it’s that of [Benjamin] Netanyahu,” she said.
Meanwhile, a Qatari-brokered deal to release 50 Israeli hostages in return for a four-day truce was announced on Wednesday. This was the first major diplomatic breakthrough since the Gaza Strip and the West Bank came under disproportionate attack by terrorist Israel.
In a statement, the foreign ministry of Qatar confirmed the deal that would also see Palestinians languishing in Israeli jails be released. “The starting time of the pause will be announced within the next 24 hours and last for four days, subject to extension,” it said.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the four-day truce would be extended by a day for every 10 hostages released. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have reportedly held more than 200 hostages captured during Operation Al Aqsa Flood in October.
While the truce brings hope of a pause to the constant bombardment that Gaza’s 2.5 million civilians have endured for six weeks, as well as a steady flow of humanitarian aid into the famished enclave, Netanyahu emphasised this was not the end.
In a recorded message, he said: “We are at war and we will continue the war until we achieve all our goals … To destroy Hamas, return all our hostages and ensure that no entity in Gaza can threaten Israel”.