African Leaders Condemn Israel’s Offensive in Gaza

AP Photo
African heads of state, gather for a group photograph at the 37th Ordinary session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) Summit at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Leaders at an African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Saturday condemned Israel’s offensive in Gaza and called for its immediate end.

Moussa Faki, the chair of the African Union Commission, said Israel’s offensive was the “most flagrant” violation of international humanitarian law and accused Israel of having “exterminated” Gaza’s inhabitants.

Faki spoke alongside Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, who also addressed the summit.

“Rest assured we strongly condemn these attacks that are unprecedented in the history of mankind,” Faki said to applause from delegates. “We want to reassure you of our solidarity with the people of Palestine.”

Azali Assoumani, president of the Comoros and the outgoing chairperson of the African Union, praised the case brought by South Africa against Israel at the International Court of Justice while condemning “the genocide Israel is committing in Palestine under our nose.”

“The international community cannot close its eyes to the atrocities that are committed, that have not only created chaos in Palestine but also have disastrous consequences in the rest of the world,” Assoumani said.

A quarter of Gaza’s residents are starving because of the war, which began with Hamas’ assault into Israel on Oct. 7, in which militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted around 250.

Israel strongly denies committing genocide in Gaza and says it does all it can to spare civilians and is only targeting Hamas militants. It says Hamas’ tactic of embedding in civilian areas makes it difficult to avoid civilian casualties.

During last year’s AU summit, an Israeli delegate was unceremoniously removed from the plenary hall amid a row over the country’s observer status at the continental body.

Concern over conflicts and the resurgence of coups across the African continent also underscored the opening of this year’s summit. Faki cited tensions over Senegal’s postponed election and violence in eastern Congo, Sudan, the Sahel, and Libya. He called for a revival of “the spirit of African solidarity and Pan-Africanism” to overcome the many challenges facing the continent of 1.3 billion people.