President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa, as a nation that fought and defeated apartheid, had an obligation to stand up for justice and fundamental human rights for all people, and this underpinned its application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to stop the violence unleashed by Israel on the Gaza Strip.
Writing in his weekly newsletter on Monday, Ramaphosa said South Africa, as a signatory to the Genocide Convention, carried a responsibility, like other states that were signatory to the convention, to prevent acts of genocide wherever they occured.
“It was in fulfilment of this responsibility and to prevent further civilian deaths and destruction that South Africa took this case to the court.
“The ICJ listened to the South African case and in turn also listened to the Israeli case. In its order handed down last week, the ICJ found that it is plausible that Israel has committed acts that are in violation of the Genocide Convention to which South Africa, Israel and many other countries are signatories,” Ramaphosa said.
The ICJ ruled that Israel shall, in accordance with its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, in relation to Palestinians in Gaza, take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of this Convention.
The court also ruled that Israel shall take all measures within its power to prevent and punish the direct and public incitement to commit genocide in relation to members of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip.
“On the issue of humanitarian assistance, the court ruled that the State of Israel shall take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
“The court further directed the State of Israel to take effective measures to prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of evidence related to allegations of acts within the scope of the Convention on the Crime of Genocide against members of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip. The court also ruled that Israel should submit a report within a month on all measures taken to give effect to the court’s order.”
Ramaphosa said criticism of the atrocities committed by the Israeli military was not directed at any religious or ethnic group, and could simply be dismissed as anti-semitism.
“Nor can our case before the ICJ be said to diminish the enormity of the Holocaust. On the contrary, it is the experience by humanity of the Holocaust and other acts of genocide that motivates our efforts to prevent anything of this nature from happening again.”
He said the court application was about the Palestinian people; their suffering, the deprivation of their rights, and the denial of their right to self-determination.
“Yet, in bringing this application we are seeking to reinforce, protect and advance the rights of all people at all times.”