South Africa has submitted all necessary paperwork to the International Criminal Court (ICC), bringing war crime charges against Israel over its genocidal war in Gaza, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday, according to local outlet Eyewitness News.
According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 19,667 Palestinians have been killed and 52,586 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7. Palestinian and international estimates say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.
Last month, President Ramaphosa condemned the Hamas incursion into Israel on October 7 during an emergency virtual BRICS+ meeting, accusing the Palestinian Resistance Movement of violating international law. He asserted, however, that Israel is committing genocide and blamed the raging conflict on the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territory.
Ramaphosa had previously called for the ICC to investigate Israel for its actions in the war against Gaza and had filed a request for this probe with a number of other countries.
The Israeli war on Gaza has further strained diplomatic relations between the African nation and Israel. Pretoria has long supported the Palestinian struggle for sovereignty, comparing it to South Africa’s own battle against apartheid in the 20th century.
Late last month, the country’s lawmakers endorsed a motion to suspend ties with Israel until Netanyahu commits to a ceasefire in the besieged Palestinian territory. Israel recalled its ambassador from Pretoria, citing comments made by South African officials against Tel Aviv as the reason. Pretoria had earlier withdrawn its envoy and diplomatic staff from the country, as had Bolivia, Belize, Bahrain, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, and Türkiye.
On Monday, Ramaphosa reportedly requested that the ICC begin the probe into war crimes against Israel as soon as possible.
“Once a case has been referred to them, they need to take it up seriously. So South Africa, as well as a number of other countries, are presenting their full documentation to the ICC,” Eyewitness News quoted the South African president as saying.
Apart from South Africa, Iran, which will officially join the BRICS next month, has urged the bloc to designate the Israeli government and military as terrorist organizations over atrocities against Palestinians.
Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu would face war crimes charges at the ICC “as the butcher of Gaza.”
Meanwhile, Pretoria has also warned South Africans against joining the Israeli army in the Gaza conflict, citing the risk of violating domestic and international law.
“Any person joining the IDF without the necessary permission of the NCACC (National Conventional Arms Control Committee) is breaking the law and can be prosecuted,” the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement on Monday.
(from The Palestine Chronicle, 19 December 2023)