South Africa says it discussed aid with Hamas leader, denies reports of support

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa said on Tuesday its foreign minister held a call with the leader of Hamas about getting aid into Gaza and other Palestinian territories and denied a report of offering support to the militant group in its conflict against Israel.

South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor received a request to call Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, the government’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said in a statement, adding that the call was in line with the country’s readiness to engage with all parties in facilitating dialogue.

Local publication News24 earlier reported a statement from Hamas that the group had received a call of support from South Africa’s foreign minister. It said the Hamas statement did not name Pandor.

“We do not have a bilateral relationship with Hamas… Support for the Palestinian struggle against occupation does not equate to support for Hamas,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

South Africa has long been an advocate for peace in the region, likening the plight of Palestinians to its own under an apartheid regime that ended in 1994.

Israel has vowed to annihilate the Hamas movement after Hamas fighters killed some 1,300 people during a rampage through southern Israeli towns on Oct. 7, the deadliest single day in Israel’s 75-year history.

Israel has responded with a series of air strikes on the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 2,800 Palestinians. It has also imposed a blockade on the enclave, which could soon run out of food, fuel and medical supplies.

(Reporting by Tannur Anders and Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Nick Macfie)