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19 Dec, 2023 13:58

BRICS member presses ICC to charge Israel with war crimes – media

South Africa has presented all the necessary documentation to the body, local media claim
BRICS member presses ICC to charge Israel with war crimes – media

South Africa has submitted all necessary paperwork to the International Criminal Court (ICC), to bring war crime charges against Israel over its offensive in Gaza, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday, according to local outlet Eyewitness News.

More than 19,000 people, mostly women and children, have been killed in Israeli air and ground assaults in Gaza since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to "eliminate" Hamas in response to the Palestinian militant group's October 7 cross-border attack, in which it killed about 1,200 people and took 240 hostages.

Last month, President Ramaphosa condemned the Hamas incursion during an emergency virtual BRICS+ meeting, accusing the militant group of violating international law. He insisted, however, that Israel is committing genocide and blamed the raging conflict on the Jewish state's occupation of Palestinian territory.

Ramaphosa had previously called for the ICC to investigate Israel for its actions in the conflict with Hamas, and had filed a request for this probe with a number of other countries.

The Gaza conflict has 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 cease-fire in the Palestinian territory.

Israel recalled its ambassador from Pretoria, citing comments made by South African officials against West Jerusalem 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 Pretoria had earlier withdrawn its envoy and diplomatic staff from the country, as had Bolivia, Belize, Bahrain, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, and Türkiye.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 alleged 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 alleged 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 Defense Forces (IDF) 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.