Cape Town - Despite Israel’s disregard for the recent ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), this should not cause South Africans to stop striving for peace and security in the world, said Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) Minister Naledi Pandor while addressing congregants at the St George’s Cathedral.
Pandor joined the Eucharist Service on Sunday, to shed light on why the Cabinet decided to take the Gaza case to the ICJ.
This move was driven by the country’s strong belief in multilateralism, she said, which was discussed for many hours in Cabinet before deciding to approach the ICJ to adjudicate over the matter.
“... when looking at the facts of what had occurred in all the weeks since October 7, we determined that, in our view, it is accurate that genocide was under way,” Pandor said.
“You would be aware as South Africans that we have been calling for a long time for reform of the UN key bodies and institutions as we feel they’re no longer responsive to the experiences we have today and I think nothing illustrates that more startling than the recent conflict in Gaza.
“Because as the world, having adopted conventions such as the one against the crime of genocide, we should as the world have been prepared with the ability to enforce such conventions and we have patently failed to do so.
“We therefore approached the ICJ with trepidation because we were not sure that what we put to them would be taken as seriously and urgently as we hoped as South Africa’s government and people.
“We feel that the manner of consideration of our submission to the court has to some degree, through South Africa and South Africans, restored faith in the key institutions of the UN but also drawn global attention to the need for reform of the UN.”
“I'm really worried because the UN immediately took action to suspend those that it is allege assisted Hamas and if it is true, then proper action must be taken against these individuals but to punish the entire Palestinian community that is in need of aid is most troubling.”
Pandor said she was worried over the defunding of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) by several nations following allegations by Israel that 12 employees had ties to Hamas or were involved in the October 7 attack, and she joined calls for funding to be restored.
“This collective punishment that we see is what has led to our call that genocide is being committed and it’s terrible that where individuals have committed a particular wrong, a whole group of people is now being made to take blame for such deeds.”
Cathedral dean, Father Michael Weeder, said: “Minister Naledi spoke with such clarity and without guile about the gospel message today (Sunday). That Jesus became like us, a human being familiar with the pain and joy of being wondrously alive. I had a deep sense of the presence of God when the minister spoke about God.
“She does so on a day when we are very aware of how Jesus and Mary and Joseph had to seek shelter from the violence of Herod. To reach the safety of Egypt their escape route took them through Gaza.”
Father Michael Lapsley said: “Many of us have felt helpless as we have watched the genocide happening every day. Thanks be to God that precisely because of our own wounds, we as a country could not stand on the sidelines.”