South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has told FRANCE 24 that the situation in Gaza reminds him of the apartheid era in his own country. Israeli actions against the Palestinians, he said, evoke memories of the crimes of apartheid committed in South Africa under white rule, adding that while South Africa stands by the Palestinians, he urges both sides to sit down and negotiate.
The 18-minute interview with Ramaphosa began with a question about Israel's bombardment of Gaza and the failure of the international community to hold Israel to account. The discussion then moved to the challenges facing South Africa, including Covid-19.
"We as South Africans," said Ramaphosa, "are most concerned because the images that we've been seeing of a people being prevented from moving around; of a people whose homes are being destroyed; of people who have been driven out of their homes before they are bombed; of Israeli soldiers manhandling people, all bring back terrible memories of our own history, and apartheid."
When South Africans see those images they can't but side with the Palestinians, he explained. "Our country's support for the people of Palestine is based on principles."
Ramaphosa echoed findings by leading human rights group who have concluded that Israel is guilty of committing the crime of apartheid which is regarded a crime against humanity under international law.
Last month, a report from Human Rights Watch (HRW), joined a host of other prominent groups to declare that Israel is committing the crimes of apartheid and persecution. In January, Israeli human rights group B'Tselem noted that Israel "promotes and perpetuates Jewish supremacy between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River." Echoing the UN's 2017 report which concluded that Israel was indeed practising apartheid, B'Tselem dismissed the popular misconception that it is a democracy within the Green (1949 Armistice) Line.