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16 Nov, 2023 13:49

South Africa refers Israel to ICC

Pretoria accuses the Israeli government of committing genocide in Gaza
South Africa refers Israel to ICC

South Africa has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the Israeli government for alleged war crimes in Gaza, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Wednesday during a two-day visit to Qatar.

The claim against Israel, which has not ratified the Rome Statute – the treaty establishing the ICC – was taken “together with many other countries”, Ramaphosa said, without specifying which states were involved.

Last week, Colombian President Gustavo Petro announced Bogota would request that the court prosecute Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over “the massacre” of civilians in Gaza. Similarly, two Turkish lawyers and a former lawmaker have petitioned Ankara's government to file charges against Israel at the ICC, to which Türkiye is also not a party.

Israel declared war on Hamas last month following a raid by the Palestinian militant group into Israeli territory that killed an estimated 1,200 people. The resulting Israel Defense Forces (IDF) retaliation has seen Gaza bombarded for more than a month. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah has said that more than 11,200 people have been killed in the enclave since the hostilities erupted, with another 2,700 reported missing.

On Wednesday, Ramaphosa claimed that while South Africa, an active supporter of Palestinian sovereignty, does not endorse the Hamas incursion, the Israeli response amounts to genocide that warrants an ICC investigation.

We are opposed to the operation that is ongoing, particularly as it is now targeting hospitals where babies, women, and the injured are dying like flies,” the South African leader said.

There is a need for the whole world to rise and call for the Israeli government to ceasefire, and stop what is happening and the ICC to investigate. Of course, legal measures need to be taken at a global level,” he added.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also demanded on Tuesday that Israel's attacks on hospitals, ambulances, and medical personnel in Gaza be "investigated as war crimes." The World Health Organization reported that 521 people, including 16 medical workers, had been killed in 137 "attacks on health care" in Gaza as of November 12.

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Earlier this month, South Africa joined Chad, Jordan, Bahrain, Honduras, Colombia, Bolivia, and Turkey in recalling diplomats from Tel Aviv in response to Israel's actions in Gaza.

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