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27 Jan, 2024 02:48

South Africa reacts to ICJ ruling on Gaza ‘genocide’

The president said the call for Israel to prevent indiscriminate killings of Palestinians is a “victory” for human rights
South Africa reacts to ICJ ruling on Gaza ‘genocide’

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed Friday’s ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which ordered Israel to take all necessary steps to prevent genocide in Gaza following a case brought by Pretoria.

Speaking in a televised address, the president celebrated his country’s “unprecedented action” in taking Israel to the ICJ on genocide allegations. He said the court’s latest decision had affirmed South Africa’s right to bring such a case, even though the global body “is not a party to the conflict in Gaza.”

“As the South African Government we welcome the decision of the ICJ,” Ramaphosa added. “After more than half a century of occupation, dispossession, oppression and apartheid, the Palestinian people’s cries for justice have been heeded by an eminent organ of the United Nations.”

He went on to note that the court had acknowledged the “catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip,” stating that hundreds of thousands of Gazans had been “deprived of electricity, fuel, food and medical supplies.”

In its interim ruling, issued earlier on Friday, a panel of 17 judges passed seven “emergency measures” requested by Pretoria. In addition to demanding that Israel refrain from committing genocide, the judges ordered the Jewish state to punish members of its military who commit “genocidal acts,” as well as officials who publicly call for the genocide of the Palestinians. Israel must also preserve evidence of any such acts already committed, the ruling stated.

The ICJ is yet to examine the merits of the case brought up by South Africa. The process could potentially take years, according to Reuters. 

Notably, the court did not order Israel to halt its military action in Gaza, which was launched in retaliation to a deadly Hamas terrorist attack last October that left more than 1,200 dead. According to Gaza health officials, the Israeli operation has killed more than 26,000 Palestinians, roughly two-thirds of them women and children, and laid waste to much of the enclave.

In his own reaction to the verdict, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the decision as “not only false,” but “outrageous,” and went on to insist that his country was exercising its “basic right to defend itself.”

Türkiye, a longtime critic of Israel, offered a much more positive response, with President  Recep Tayyip Erdogan cheering the ICJ ruling as “valuable” while voicing hopes that “Israel’s attacks against women, children and the elderly will come to an end.”