Gigaba could review visas for Israelis after Gaza bloodbath

File: Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba on Tuesday said he would consult with Cabinet to possibly review visa regulations following the Gaza bloodbath. Photo: REUTERS/Rogan Ward

JOHANNESBURG – Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba on Tuesday said he would consult with Cabinet to possibly review visa regulations following the Gaza bloodbath.

The minister joined the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) in condemning Israeli troops involved in the killing of over 50 Palestinians on Monday.

“It reminds us of the days of apartheid,” Gigaba said.

“We’ll take these issues [to Cabinet in order] to look at a possible review of visa regulations. Also, we’ll look at South Africans with dual citizenship and their involvement in Israeli Defence Force,” the minister added.

He made the comments while meeting with members of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) South Africa on Tuesday.

BDS met with Gigaba to discuss more stringent visa measures for Israeli visitors to South Africa.

Condemnation

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu late on Tuesday also weighed in on the crisis.

United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) spokesperson Rupert Colville told a regular briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, that Israel had a right to defend its borders.

But he said lethal force should only be used as a last resort.

“We condemn the appalling, deadly violence in Gaza yesterday during which 58 Palestinians were killed, and almost 1,360 demonstrators were injured with live ammunition fired by the Israeli security forces.

“Of those injured, 155 are in critical condition. Six children and a health worker are among those who lost their lives and 10 journalists suffered injuries from gunshot wounds,” Colville said.

“The already crumbling healthcare system has been placed under incredible strain and those suffering life-threatening injuries face a nightmarish scenario in the absence of adequate hospital beds as well as medical facilities,” the spokesperson added.

EXPLAINER: Israel comes into being: looking back 70 years

“Lethal force may only be used as a measure of last and not first resort…”

More recalls not ruled out

Dirco said it had not ruled out the possibility of recalling the Israeli ambassador to explain the killings.

The move comes just a day after Pretoria recalled its ambassador to Israel.

The violence resulted in a number of other diplomatic fallouts.

Dirco Minister Lindiwe Sisulu met with President Cyril Ramaphosa, just hours after the first reports of violence.

A decision was then taken to withdraw Ambassador Sisa Ngombane from the Tel Aviv embassy.

READ: SA withdraws ambassador to Israel following deadly Gaza attack

But first, Sisulu tried to persuade United States (US) Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to postpone the opening of his country’s new embassy in eastern Jerusalem.

“The request I was making was to say, is there a possibility that the United States could consider [a delay] and he said he was unable to. It was a decision that had already been fixed,” she said.

There has been mixed political reaction to South Africa’s decision to recall Ngombane with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) saying the move did not go far enough.

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said: “We think that the consolidation of that move should have been to expel the Israeli foreign mission in South Africa. Israel's complaint about the safety of its border is self-inflicted.”

The Democratic Alliance (DA) claims South Africa is giving up its chance to be a mediator in the conflict.

The party’s Dirco spokesperson Stevens Mokgalapa said: “As the Democratic Alliance, we are saying South Africa has been renowned for being international mediation experts. When you take such a drastic decision, you are weakening your own mediation efforts.”

Ahmed Kathrada Foundation Executive Director Neeshan Balton also condemned the killings and welcomed the recall.

“We welcome the solidarity action in support of Palestine,” he said. “It is important that we continue raising our objection to the occupation, colonialism and apartheid that Palestinians have been subjected to for the better part of the last century.”

READ: Jewish board slams SA's recall of ambassador to Israel

Ordinary South Africans also took to the streets of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth to express their outrage through peaceful demonstrations.

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