South Africa on Monday called on the United Nations to deploy a rapid protection force to protect civilians in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza from new bombings.
The request came as Israel intensifies its retaliation for a deadly attack by the Hamas militant group.
South Africa has long been an advocate for peace in the region, comparing the Palestinians’ plight to its own under the apartheid regime that ended in 1994.
In calling for a protection force, South Africa has gone further in its support for the Palestinians than most nations, some of which have called for a ceasefire or the opening of a humanitarian corridor to allow aid into Gaza. .
Israel has intensified its blockade and bombardment of Gaza since Hamas gunmen stormed Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,400 people.
Palestinians in Gaza reported fierce air and artillery strikes early Monday.
“Entire generations of families have been wiped out in Gaza over the past three weeks,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
A member of the Palestinian community in Johannesburg had 25 relatives killed in an Israeli airstrike on Monday morning, according to the statement, while relatives of a senior Palestinian diplomat in South Africa were killed in his apartment building the day before.
“The number of non-combatants killed, especially the number of children killed, requires the world to demonstrate that it takes global responsibility seriously,” the statement said.
Gaza medical authorities said on Sunday that 8,005 people had died in the three-week war. Reuters could not independently confirm the figures.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa previously offered to help mediate the conflict.
South Africa also said earlier this month that its Foreign Minister held a call with the Hamas leader to get aid to Gaza, while stressing that it did not support the group.