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Monday, 20 November 2023 19:18

Ramaphosa convenes BRICS meeting on Gaza crisis.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

South Africa will chair an extraordinary virtual meeting of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) on Tuesday "on the situation in Gaza and the Middle East", the presidency announced on Monday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the opening remarks, while member and invited states will also deliver country statements on the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The other heads of state of the BRICS will participate in this virtual meeting, as well as the leaders of the countries invited, during the recent summit of the group in Johannesburg, to join it next January, namely Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran and the Arab Emirates combined.

United Nations secretary-general António Guterres will also participate in the virtual meeting.

The leaders will be expected to adopt a joint statement on the situation in the Middle East with particular reference to Gaza.

Israel launched its offensive against Hamas after a wave of brutal cross-border raids on October 7 left 1,200 people dead, the majority of them civilians, according to Israeli authorities.

The Hamas-run government says the death toll from Israel's aerial bombardment and ground operations in the Palestinian territory has reached 13,000, thousands of them children.

South Africa, Djibouti, the Comoros, Bangladesh, and Bolivia submitted a joint referral to the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni on Monday accused the ICC of dragging its feet to probe the case. This follows the investigation that began in 2021 into Palestine.

She said they wanted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his senior officials to be charged before the meeting of state parties in mid-December.