South Africa has officially brought Israel’s government before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for its actions during the Gaza conflict, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Wednesday.
“As South Africa, we have accordingly, together with many other countries in the world, seen fit to refer this whole Israeli government action to the International Criminal Court. We have put through a referral because we believe that war crimes are being committed there,” President Ramaphosa stated.
The president did not disclose the specific countries that joined South Africa in referring Israel to the ICC.
While expressing disapproval of Hamas’s previous attack on Israel, Ramaphosa emphasised their opposition to Israel’s ongoing actions, which they “believe warrant investigations by the ICC.”
Israel contends that its bombing and invasion of Gaza are acts of self-defense in response to the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, resulting in over 1,400 casualties and more than 230 people being taken hostage.
Israel further argues that Hamas is using civilian structures like hospitals as shields for its fighters and weapons, making them legitimate targets.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an international tribunal responsible for investigating and prosecuting individuals accused of committing serious crimes that concern the global community, such as war crimes and genocides.
South Africa has been notably supportive of Palestinians throughout the ongoing conflict with Israel. Various leaders in the country have publicly endorsed the Palestinian cause, and there have been pro-Palestine demonstrations.
This development comes on the heels of South Africa’s Foreign Minister, Naledi Pandor, expressing profound concern over the situation just a week ago. Minister Pandor emphasized the deep distress over the loss of innocent lives, stating, “We are … extremely concerned at the continued killing of children and innocent civilians in the Palestinian territories, and we believe the nature of the response by Israel has become one of collective punishment.” The government’s decision to recall diplomats was a strategic move to convey this concern while also maintaining advocacy for a comprehensive cessation of hostilities.