Israel reprimands South Africa over Hamas visit

Jerusalem, Oct 19 (IANS) Israel’s Foreign Ministry on Monday reprimanded South Africa’s deputy ambassador to Israel for a high-profile Hamas official visit to the country.

Khaled Mashal, Hamas’s political leader since 2004, was invited to participate in a conference of South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), and will meet South African President Jacob Zuma.

ANC said the conference will discuss “Palestinian identity issues, in addition to an independent, sovereign Palestinian state, free from Israeli occupation”.

In response, the Israeli foreign ministry said this event supports terrorism, and expressed its “shock and fury” over it, Xinhua reported.

“This invitation propels and encourages terrorism, blatantly disregarding the international community’s stance, which views Hamas as a terrorist organization,” Israel said.

Israel considers Hamas as a terrorist organisation, fighting it repeatedly in the past few years during battles in the Gaza Strip which has been under Hamas control since 2007.

The US and several other countries also consider Hamas a terrorist organisation.

Israeli media reported on Monday that Hamas called on organisation members to carry out suicide bombing attacks against Israelis.

This method was profusely used mainly throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, around the time of the second Palestinian intifada.

The Israeli foreign ministry also summoned the French ambassador to Israel, Patrick Maisonnave, to express its disdain over a French proposal to place international observers at east Jerusalem’s flashpoint, the site of the holy Al-Aqsa mosque.

Israel occupied the West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast War.

The Al-Aqsa mosque compound, known as the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims, is a holy site, and has been the source of ongoing clashes since September.

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