Council statement on the crisis in Gaza

07 December 2023

Dear members of the UCT campus community

The University of Cape Town’s (UCT) vision statement commits to producing graduates who are engaged citizens and committed to social justice. We as a university have also committed to providing thought leadership on social justice within a decolonial framework.

We are thus obligated to speak out on local and global issues, particularly where there are egregious violations of human rights. Our own history of settler colonialism, apartheid and state violence places an even more onerous obligation on us as an institution and as a country to make our voices heard.

The murder of civilians is and must be condemned regardless of the perpetrators, and even a struggle for freedom must be waged within an ethical and moral framework. We thus condemn the disproportionate and deliberate attack by Hamas on Israeli civilians.

The disproportionate and deliberate Israeli attack on civilians and civilian infrastructure in acts of collective punishment in Gaza has seen over 15 000 Palestinians killed in a period of under two months, 75% of whom are women and children, leading the head of UNICEF to describe it as a war on children. The deliberate destruction of hospitals can only be seen as a war crime, as is blocking access to food, water, and fuel as instruments of war. In the same period nearly 250 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank, with nearly 2 000 injured by Israeli occupation forces and settlers.

The UCT Council, committed to its values, calls for:

  1. an immediate ceasefire, enforced by the United Nations
  2. the immediate release of all civilian hostages and those Palestinians held without trial
  3. immediate humanitarian access to all parts of Gaza
  4. an international investigation on war crimes by all parties engaged in this conflict, and consequent actions against the perpetrators
  5. an international conference on seeking a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that seeks to enforce justice and security for Palestinians and Israelis
  6. condemnation of all forms of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and racism.

UCT will always seek to engender a tolerant and diverse university, which will remain a safe space for all students, staff and visitors regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or political persuasion.

The UCT Council

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