Senior Hamas officials joined Nelson Mandela's family as tributes to South Africa's first black president on the 10th anniversary of his death in the capital Pretoria on Tuesday, AFP journalists noted.
South Africa, a fervent supporter of the Palestinian cause, is one of the countries most critical of the massive and deadly Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, in retaliation for the bloody attacks carried out by Hamas in Israel on 7 October.
Nelson Mandela, who advocated "freedom for the Palestinians", died in 2013 at the age of 95. Leaders from around the world, including the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, were present at his funeral, but Israeli leaders did not attend.
On Tuesday, the family of the anti-apartheid hero laid a wreath in front of the statue of him in front of government headquarters in Pretoria.
Basem Naim, former Health Minister for Hamas in Gaza, and Khaled Qaddoumi, representative of the Islamist movement in Iran, were present. In the preceding days, they had also taken part in a conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict organised by Nelson Mandela's grandson, Mandla Mandela, in Johannesburg.
"We wanted to get a first-hand look at the daily atrocities committed in Gaza," Mandla Mandela told national broadcaster SABC.
"It was a real experience for them to be in South Africa and to learn from what we experienced with apartheid, one of the most brutal regimes on the continent, which we defeated", he continued, adding that he wanted to continue his grandfather's work in favour of the creation of a Palestinian state, "the great moral issue of our time", according to Nelson Mandela.
The African National Congress (ANC), South Africa's historic ruling party, last month supported a motion in the National Assembly calling for the closure of the Israeli embassy and the suspension of diplomatic relations in protest at the war.
Pretoria has also officially asked the International Criminal Court to investigate what President Cyril Ramaphosa has described as "war crimes" committed by Israel in Gaza. The war between Israel and Hamas, which entered its 60th day on Tuesday, was triggered by a bloody and unprecedented attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement on Israeli soil from the Gaza Strip on 7 October.
According to Israel, 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the attack, during which around 240 people were kidnapped and taken to the small Palestinian territory controlled by Hamas since 2007.
In its latest report on Monday, the Hamas Ministry of Health put the death toll at 15,899, 70% of whom were women and children.