EAC member countries’ stance on Hamas-Israel Conflict

By Esther Muhozi
On 20 October 2023 at 11:54

It has been two weeks since the Israeli military clashed with the Hamas group in Gaza. This confrontation occurred following a surprise attack by the Hamas group in the early hours of October 7, 2023. The Israeli army subsequently declared an official state of ’war’ against Hamas with the intention of completely eradicating the group, which Israel categorizes as a terrorist organization.

As of this Thursday, United Nations reports indicate that more than 1,300 Israelis have lost their lives, while over 3,000 Palestinians have perished.

This conflict is taking place against the backdrop of ongoing construction efforts to rebuild damaged infrastructure, particularly in Gaza.

This war has reignited international divisions, despite over 70 years of unresolved conflict between Israel-Palestine, and more than 130 international resolutions from the UN aimed at addressing the issue.

At the outset of the conflict, various countries expressed their positions based on their perspectives on the problem and their diplomatic relations with Israel and Palestine.

Rwanda, through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denounced the Hamas attack, and called for a resolution to the tensions between the two sides.

Rwanda and Israel maintain strong bilateral relations, with embassies in both countries, which are reinforced by reciprocal visits from their leaders.

However, Rwanda has historically been cautious in addressing the Israel-Palestine issue. For example, in 2017, when the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem, Rwanda remained silent regarding that decision.

Kenya is another country that issued a statement following the Hamas attack. President William Ruto expressed strong condemnation of the attack on civilians via his ’X’ Twitter account and affirmed his country’s support for Israel.

Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni also condemned the attack, emphasizing that the ideal solution is the existence of two states, Palestine and Israel, as confirmed by the UN resolutions in 1947.

Uganda’s relations with Israel have seen ups and downs, notably during the rule of President Idi Amin, who expelled Israelis in 1972. Currently, Israel doesn’t have an embassy in Uganda, and its interests in the country are overseen through its embassy in Kenya.

Among those abducted by Hamas from Israel were two students with Tanzanian citizenship. In response to the attack, Tanzania issued a statement expressing solidarity with both Israelis and Palestinians who lost their lives and condemning violence.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) also condemned the Hamas attack on Israel and expressed solidarity with the Israeli people. Congo has an embassy in Tel Aviv, while it’s considering the possibility of opening an embassy in Kinshasa.

In 1973, when the DR Congo was known as Zaire under Mobutu Sese Seko’s leadership, relations between the Congo and Israel were strong. At that time, Israel had positive relations with the South African government, which was accused of oppressing black people. Additionally, the 1967 war resulted in Israel’s occupation of Gaza, which was previously under Egyptian control.

Burundi, a neighboring country of Rwanda, has not made any official statements about the conflict between Hamas and Israel. Both countries lack embassies in each other’s territories but have regional representatives. In the past, Burundi indicated its lack of support for certain international decisions, such as the 2017 United Nations vote against moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

There is a growing concern that the Israel-Hamas conflict may escalate further, as both sides have support from multiple countries, potentially threatening global stability. This region, home to significant reserves of oil, gas, and other valuable resources, plays a vital role in the global economy.

It has been two weeks since the Israeli military clashed with the Hamas group in Gaza.