Politics, World, Middle East, Africa

Israel-Palestine conflict leaves Africa divided

Countries like South Africa and Algeria have taken strong stand for Palestinians

Hassan Isilow, James Tasamba  | 20.10.2023 - Update : 22.10.2023
Israel-Palestine conflict leaves Africa divided Pro-Palestinian demonstration in South Africa


- Kenya, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo among countries voicing support for Israel

- African countries’ positions on this issue based more on political, geopolitical interests, says analyst

The ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict in the Gaza strip has left the African continent deeply divided, with some countries choosing to remain silent while some have openly shown solidarity with either Israel or Palestine.

Kenya, Ghana, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are some of the African countries whose leaders have shown support for Israel despite growing global condemnation.

“Kenya joins the rest of the world in solidarity with the State of Israel and unequivocally condemns terrorism and attacks on innocent civilians in the country,” President William Ruto wrote on X on Oct. 7, after Hamas launched its surprise attack on Israel.

“There exists no justification whatsoever for terrorism, which constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security,” Ruto added.

In an Oct. 8 statement, Ghana’s Foreign Ministry said the country “affirms its support for Israel’s right to exist and defend itself,” while also calling on “the Israeli government to exercise restraint in its response to Hamas attacks.”

On the other hand, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has pledged his support and solidarity with the people of Palestine.

“All of us standing here pledge our solidarity for the people of Palestine. We stand here because we are deeply concerned about the atrocities that are unfolding in the Middle East,” he said in an address at a meeting of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party in Johannesburg.

Hundreds of people in different cities in South Africa have also held protests to denounce the continued Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Many people in South Africa say they support the Palestinian struggle because they believe what is happening to Palestinians under the Israeli occupation is similar to what they experienced in the apartheid era.

Algeria, another powerful African nation, has also strongly condemned the Israeli attacks on Gaza and expressed solidarity with Palestine.

Its Foreign Ministry expressed concern over Israel’s attacks on Gaza, saying they violate international humanitarian law.

Divisions not a surprise

Louis Gitinywa, a Rwanda-based political analyst and constitutional lawyer, said it is not a big surprise that the Israel-Palestine issue has divided the continent because African nations do not have a common stance when it comes to foreign policy.

“African countries have taken different positions on the matter based on their political and geopolitical interests. This is nothing new. States have interests, they don’t have friends,” he told Anadolu.

The only African country which has long and strong historical attachment with Israel is Ethiopia, but it is yet to make clear its stance on the current situation.

He said it is significant that two big and economically strong African countries, South Africa and Algeria, have expressed support for Palestine.

Lesiba Teffo, a professor at the University of South Africa, said some African countries supporting Israel lack an appreciation of political history and political consciousness.

“When you look at the history of the establishment of Israel, you will find it difficult to understand why some African leaders, most of who are from countries that were colonized and exploited for the benefit of the West, would themselves today support the oppression of Palestinians, who are in situations that they were once in,” he told Anadolu.

Teffo said some of those supporting Israel are safeguarding their economic interests, while those who have maintained silence or a neutral stance do not want to upset their allies.

“Unfortunately, we have some countries on the continent whose budgets cannot be passed because they depend on foreign donations from the West, and they cannot turn against the West by standing against Israel,” he said.

Teffo added that some African leaders supporting Israel are ones who got into office with the West’s backing.

Buchanan Ismael, a political scientist at the University of Rwanda, pointed out that some African countries depend on Israel for thing such as military technology and weapons.

“I don’t think African states have very strong diplomatic relations with Israel,” he said, adding that their ties are based on an “opportunistic way of cooperation” and assistance.

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