South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for the opening of humanitarian corridors for civilians in the Gaza Strip and said he was ready to mediate between the two sides to end the fighting.    

Israel launched air raids on the Gaza Strip and imposed a complete blockade on the territory in response to Hamas’ attacks over the weekend, and prohibited the entry of food, gasoline and water.     

South Africa believes that a two-state solution is the only way to resolve the enduring conflict.        

Ramaphosa said in a statement that urgent humanitarian assistance be provided to avoid suffering and “called for immediate and unconditional opening of humanitarian corridors."    

"We remain gravely concerned at the devastating escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the atrocities committed against civilian populations. We call for the immediate cessation of violence and the exercise of restraint," he said.        

The United Nations World Food Programme has called for the establishment of humanitarian corridors to deliver food into Gaza, while the International Committee of the Red Cross has warned that fuel for hospital generators will soon run out.       

Ramaphosa also said his country was ready to mediate between the warring sides in the latest escalation, adding that he has previous experience in mediation. 

The president led a delegation of African leaders in June on a peace mission to Ukraine and Russia where they met President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Vladimir Putin respectively to call for an end to the war in Ukraine. 

However, South Africa has an uneasy relationship with Israel, far different than Pretoria’s ties with Moscow. In March, South Africa’s parliament voted in favor of downgrading its diplomatic ties with Israel for its treatment of Palestinians, drawing criticism from Israel.  

Ramaphosa urged the international community to accelerate its support for a Palestinian State, existing alongside Israel, within the 1967 internationally recognized borders and East Jerusalem as its capital.

“South Africa stands ready to work with the international community and to share our experience in mediation and conflict resolution as we have done on the continent and around the world,” the president said.

(Editing by Seban Scaria