South Africa’s government said on Friday it was checking information from the Israeli embassy that two of its nationals had been killed in attacks by militant group Hamas and called on Israel to provide Gazans with food and water.
The attacks by Hamas inside Israel killed more than 1,300 people, mostly civilians. Israel has since responded with days of retaliatory attacks, pounding densely urbanised Gaza with air strikes and artillery fire and killing over 1,500 Palestinians.
“We are currently verifying this,” Clayson Monyela, a spokesperson for South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), said when asked about a local news report that two South Africans had been killed since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict escalated last weekend.
In another statement, DIRCO called on Israel to heed calls of the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies to “immediately provide water, food, fuel, and electricity to the people of Gaza.”
It also called for the release of Israeli hostages taken into Gaza by Hamas.
On Friday Israel called for all civilians of Gaza City, more than 1 million people, to relocate south within 24 hours for an expected ground invasion. The United Nations said evacuating everyone would be impossible with power supplies cut and food and water in the Palestinian enclave already running short.
Support and sympathy for Israel from Western governments and many citizens over the Hamas attacks has been strong, while much of the Arab and Muslim world have been angered by the Israeli response.
Monyela said the source of the information was a post on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, by the Israeli embassy in Pretoria. He said it was possible that the people the embassy said had been killed could have dual South African-Israeli citizenship.