The head of the African Union Commission has appealed for an end to the conflict between Israeli forces and the Palestinian militant group Hamas which has killed hundreds on both sides.
Moussa Faki Mahamat called on both parties “to return, without preconditions, to the negotiating table to implement the principle of two States living side by side”.
“The Chairperson further calls on the international community, and the major world powers in particular, to assume their responsibilities to impose peace and guarantee the rights of the two peoples,” Faki said in a statement posted late Saturday by the 55-member AU bloc on X, formerly known as Twitter.
He “wishes to recall that denial of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, particularly that of an independent and sovereign State, is the main cause of the permanent Israeli-Palestinian tension,” the statement said.
Hamas launched a massive offensive early Saturday against Israel, firing thousands of rockets aimed as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as its fighters breached Gaza’s security barrier.
Israel’s army said the land, sea and air attack — which saw Hamas fighters shooting residents in Israeli towns and settlements — had killed more than 200 Israelis and wounded 1,000.
Gun battles raged into Sunday morning between Israeli forces and hundreds of Hamas fighters in multiple Israel locations, while soldiers and civilians were taken hostage.
Gaza officials said intense Israeli air strikes on the coastal enclave had brought the Palestinian death toll to at least 256, with nearly 1,800 wounded.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warned Israel was “embarking on a long and difficult war” and vowed its response against Hamas would “continue with neither limitations nor respite until the objectives are reached”.