Israel-Hamas war: Ghana calls for unconditional release of hostages

Israeli Ambassador to Ghana Shlomit Sufa, (left) and Brian Acheampong Minister of Agriculture during the reception organized by the Israel Embassy in Accra Photo David Andoh

President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called for the unconditional release of hostages taken by the Palestinian militant group, Hamas in its October 7 tragic attack on Israel.

The president expressed worry about how the majority of the hostages still remain captive with their state of health and well-being unknown or whether they are alive or dead.

The President said this in a speech read on his behalf by Ghana’s Minister of Food and Agriculture, Brian Acheampong at a reception organized by the Israeli Embassy to commemorate the country’s 76th independence anniversary at the Embassy in Accra on Thursday.

He said Ghana is using this opportunity to call on both Israelis and Palestinians to return to the negotiation table to summarize negotiations to resolve the decades-long conflict adding that he was deeply saddened that thousands of lives have perished on both sides in the ongoing war coupled with the resulting dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

He declared that Ghana has now joined the International community to call for the unconditional release of all the hostages, stressing the need for concerted efforts by all UN Member States to foster peace in the Middle East and peaceful co-existence between Israeli and Palestinian people as well as respect for Member States’ sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“The Government of Ghana takes this opportunity to, once again, call on the leadership of Hamas to unconditionally release the remaining hostages, and bring the war to an end” said the President.

President Akufo-Addo said Ghana cherishes its longstanding relations with Israel as efforts have been made over the years to deepen bilateral relations through cooperation in several fields including Agriculture, Health, Education, Water Management, Defense, Cyber ​​security, Homeland Security, Science, Innovation and Technology which have benefited Ghanaian schools and communities and entrepreneurial skills for young Ghanaian entrepreneurs.

“Our bilateral relations have also been deepened through various visits at Senior Official, Parliamentary and Ministerial levels, with the most recent being the visit of the then Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel, HE Mr. Eli Cohen who was in Ghana on a two-day working visit from 25th to 26th July 2023, during which he held fruitful discussions with the President and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.”

Speaking during the ceremony, the Israeli Ambassador to Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Madam Shlomit Sufa expressed her profound gratitude to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, government and the people of Ghana for their support and solidarity during and after October 7th attack by the Palestinian terror group, Hamas.

She also thanked the businesses and the Christian community and all Israeli friends and partners who demonstrated solidarity and support in these difficult times.

She further acknowledged organizations and institutions that partnered with the embassy to strengthen the relations between her country and Ghana.

Touching on Hamas’ October 7th attack on Israel, Madam Shlomit Sufa said the celebration of Israel’s independence anniversary which normally comes with joyous feeling among Israelis, is now clouded by great pain, mourning and trauma while 132 people including foreign nationals who were abducted are still in captivity.

Recounting events of October 7th 2023, the Ambassador said Israel woke up to a cruel and atrocious terrorist attack which was launched by Hamas on innocent Israeli citizens, claiming over 1,200 lives thus leaving thousands of casualties and taking hostage of close to 250 people that included babies, children, women, men – Jews, Muslims, Christians, and foreigners from 25 different countries.

In a somber mood Madam Shlomit Sufa said many people around the world might have forgotten but her compatriots have not yet overcome as the atrocities still echo in their hearts and minds with disturbing nightmares.

“We want to see our 132 brothers and sisters, who are currently still in the clutches of Hamas, released from captivity, and to live without the looming threat of terror, this difficult situation, although tragic, has taught us many lessons and united us “to be much stronger than ever”said the Ambassador.

She reiterated that Israelis are living in a part of the world where conflicts threaten to overshadow their dreams of prosperity, adding that despite the challenges, Israel remains steadfast in its commitment to its contribution to the international community to foster better relations with its friends.

“Our innovative spirit and entrepreneurial drive have enabled us to weather storms and emerge stronger, showing the unwavering determination of the Israeli people to thrive in the face of uncertainty” said Ambassador Shlomit Sufa.

Enumerating her success in Ghana, Madam Shlomit Sufa noted that last year they worked together on all levels to strengthen close relations with Ghana in the fields of politics and governance, agriculture, fintech, innovation, health, homeland security, renewable energy, education among others .

According to her, one strong symbol of Israel-Ghana relations was the visit of then Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Eli Cohen who held successful meetings with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Ghana’s Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.

Mr Eli Cohen visited with a delegation of leading Israeli companies that participated in the Israel-Ghana Business Forum and that strengthened the economic and trade relations between the two countries.

She added that throughout the year, the Economic and Trade Mission was able to support 218 Israeli and 483 Ghanaian companies in over 30 activities in sectors such as Water, Cyber ​​Security, Agriculture, Fintech, Healthcare, Mobil, Ed-tech among others.

For instance, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV) held several training programs on Pedagogical Innovations, Combating Gender-Based Violence, and Mitigating Climate Change, with the full participation of Ghanaian professionals from the respective sectors while Foreign Trainees in Agricultural program is currently on ongoing with over 100 Ghanaians studying and working in Israel.

In the health sector, MASHAV continues to support the work of the two mother and baby units in the Kumasi South and Suntreso Hospitals with medical equipment and trainings.

Under the initiative, a partnership program with Ashesi University and Design Thinking Ghana was signed to hold a workshop on Design Thinking which saw the participation of over 100 tertiary and high school students.

The reception was attended by members of the Jewish community in Ghana, reverend ministers and members of the Ghana-Israel Business Forum.

At the reception, Madam Shlomit Sufa and her husband David stood at the entrance to welcome the guests.

She, however, took the opportunity to announce the end of her term in Ghana.

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