South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa has submitted a request to the International Criminal Court, urging an investigation into the purported war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza.
The development coincides with South African lawmakers preparing to discuss a motion on Thursday, urging the closure of the Israeli Embassy in South Africa and the severance of all diplomatic relations with the nation until it commits to a cease-fire.
Ramaphosa stated that South Africa holds the belief that Israel is involved in war crimes and genocide in Gaza, resulting in the loss of thousands of Palestinian lives and the destruction of hospitals and public infrastructure.
“As South Africa we have accordingly, together with many other countries across the world, referred this whole Israeli government action to the International Criminal Court,” Ramaphosa said Wednesday during a state visit to Qatar.
“We have put through a referral because we believe that war crimes are being committed there. And of course we do not condone the actions that were taken by Hamas earlier, but similarly we condemn the actions that are currently underway and believe that they warrant an investigation by the ICC,” he added.
The African National Congress (ANC), led by President Ramaphosa, has expressed its backing for a motion proposed by the Economic Freedom Fighters, a leftist opposition party. This motion advocates for the closure of the Israeli Embassy in South Africa and the severance of diplomatic relations with Israel.
Last week, South Africa brought back its diplomats from Israel to reevaluate the relationship, prompted by increased civilian casualties resulting from the conflict with the Palestinian group Hamas, as stated by its foreign minister last Monday.
For ages, South Africa has been a proponent of peace in the Middle East and has shown support for Palestinians, drawing parallels between their struggle and its own history under an apartheid regime that concluded in 1994.
Dubbing the recall of diplomats as a routine procedure, Naledi Pandor explained that it aims to assess whether there is an opportunity to offer assistance and if the ongoing relationship can be maintained under all circumstances.
Currently, South Africa lacks an ambassador in Israel.
The nation is “extremely concerned at the continued killing of children and innocent civilians” in the Palestinian territory, the foreign minister said.
“We believe the nature of response by Israel has become one of collective punishment,” she noted, detailing that the country would continue to call for a comprehensive ceasefire in Palestine.