Pretoria – South Africa has expressed its concern, over the escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine territories, to Israeli Ambassador Arthur Lenk.

On Wednesday, Lenk was summoned to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) for a meeting with Deputy Minister Nomaindia Mfeketo.

Deputy Minister Mfeketo expressed South Africa’s grave concern over the escalation of violence, which has resulted in the loss of civilian life and the destruction of property in Gaza.

Deputy Minister Mfeketo told Lenk that the South African Government strongly opposes any threat of ground invasion and urged the State of Israel to refrain from making utterances that may worsen the situation.

The South African government called on the State of Israel to immediately cease its air strikes into the Gaza Strip, allow safe and free passage of civilians and make it possible for humanitarian organisations to work on alleviating the suffering of victims of the violence.

Deputy Minister Mfeketo also stressed that South Africa is opposed to any attempt to use the current situation to undermine the Unity Government in Palestine whose advent was warmly welcomed by peace-loving people the world over.

In addition, Pretoria – demanded that Israeli authorities lift all restrictions to the importation of building material and equipment into the Gaza Strip to enable destitute families and the Gaza Administration to re-build homes and infrastructure destroyed by the current and previous Israeli acts of aggression in Palestine.

“The South African Government also demands the immediate halt to the construction and expansion of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories by the Israeli Government, which violates international law, gravely undermines peace efforts, and threatens the viability of the two-State solution,” said Deputy Minister Mfeketo.

In response, Lenk explained the State of Israel’s position in the conflict and stated that he would convey the South African Government’s message to his Government.

Israeli-Palestinian violence has flared in the wake of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, in late June, and the subsequent kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian teenager from East Jerusalem, earlier this month.

Militants in Gaza have stepped up rocket attacks against Israel, and Israeli airstrikes on the enclave have intensified.