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Herzog in Rwanda to mark 30 years since genocide

Israel's president will also press for the release of the hostages held in Gaza.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog speaks at the annual Jerusalem Conference of the Besheva group, Feb. 25, 2024. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog speaks at the annual Jerusalem Conference of the Besheva group, Feb. 25, 2024. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

President Isaac Herzog on Sunday arrived in Rwanda, becoming the first Israeli leader to visit Africa since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

Herzog is expected to be in the capital Kigali for several hours, during which he will hold diplomatic meetings with international leaders and attend the ceremony marking 30 years since the genocide in Rwanda, when the Hutu Interahamwe militia slaughtered some 850,000 Tutsis.

Herzog “will emphasize the urgent need to secure the release of the [133] hostages held by Hamas for six months, including women, children, and the elderly. He will also highlight the necessity of the joint fight against terrorism worldwide,” his office said in a statement.

Video credit: Omer Meron/GPO; Sound credit: Ben Peretz/GPO.

Last month, Herzog thanked the incoming ambassadors of three African countries for their diplomatic support in thwarting a recent effort to oust Israel from observer status at the African Union.

The remarks came weeks after Israel quashed an effort by South Africa and Algeria to deprive it of observer status amid a burst of faith-based diplomacy on the continent.

Israel was granted observer status in 2021 after a two-decade struggle to regain entry to the organization dating back to the dissolution of the union’s precursor, the Organization of African Unity.

“We believe in Africa. We love Africa,” Herzog told the ambassadors. “And we see it as a continent that is very close to our hearts.”

As part of its initiative to improve diplomatic relations with African countries, Israel opened its first embassy in Rwanda in 2019.

The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1962, which were severed 11 years later after the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Ties were re-established in 1994 with Rwanda opening an embassy in Israel, closing it six years later due to budgetary constraints and reopening it in 2015.

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