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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 19th October 2023

African Union chief accuses Israel of war crimes

Blue Lines

The explosion at the Al-Ahil Hospital in Gaza has underscored the limits on Israel's political support from African states just days after Hamas's 7 October attacks killed more than 1,400 people in southern Israel.

AU Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat and South Africa have accused Israel of a 'war crime' following the explosion, which the Gaza health authorities said had killed over 300 people. Moussa Faki granted Israel observer status at the AU in 2021 but he backtracked following protests led by Algeria and South Africa.

Israel's efforts, backed by the United States, to assert that the hospital explosion was caused by a misfired missile by Palestinian Islamic Jihad are getting little air time in the Middle East and Africa.

Popular anger against Israel's siege of Gaza as well as its bombardment, which is reckoned to have killed over 3,000 people since 7 October, is driving the argument over responsibility for the deaths. Morocco and Egypt both blamed the Israel Defense Force.

In a joint statement on 15 October, Moussa Faki and Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit warned that Israel's planned ground invasion of Gaza 'could lead to a genocide of unprecedented proportions.' In Beijing, UN Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the Hamas attacks but argued they could not justify the collective punishment of Palestinians.