The BRICS group of nations Tuesday called for an immediate and sustained humanitarian truce in Gaza during an extraordinary summit where the chair, held by South Africa, accused Israel of war crimes and "genocide" in the Palestinian territory.
Pretoria hosted the virtual meeting of BRICS, with the major emerging economies, including Brazil, Russia, India, China and a few Arab and African guests, aimed at drawing up a common response to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa accused Israel of war crimes and "genocide" in Gaza.
"The collective punishment of Palestinian civilians through the unlawful use of force by Israel is a war crime. The deliberate denial of medicine, fuel, food and water to the residents of Gaza is tantamount to genocide," Ramaphosa said.
Fighting has raged in Gaza after Hamas gunmen killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, during cross-border raids on 7 October, the deadliest attack in Israel's history.
In retaliation, Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign and ground offensive in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas, killing more than 13,300 people, thousands of them children.
Ramaphosa also called for an "immediate and comprehensive ceasefire" and the deployment of a UN force "to monitor the cessation of hostilities and protect civilians."
He added, "As individual countries, we have demonstrated our grave concern at the death and destruction in Gaza.
"Let this meeting stand as a clarion call for us to combine our efforts and strengthen our actions to end this historical injustice."
The meeting also included representatives from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and Ethiopia.
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