Dirco alarmed by almost 8,000 civilians killed in Gaza

Dirco wants the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in the Gaza Strip after thousands of children were killed. Picture: Mahmud Hams/AFP

Dirco wants the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in the Gaza Strip after thousands of children were killed. Picture: Mahmud Hams/AFP

Published Oct 30, 2023


The Department of International Relations and Cooperation has raised alarm over the killing of civilians, including thousands of children in Gaza.

It said these were not combatants in the conflict, but they have been killed.

It called on the UN to deploy a protection force to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip.

The department on Monday also called for the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Gaza as civilians have been killed.

“The ICC has charged Russian President Vladimir Putin with unlawfully taking children out of Ukraine to Russia. Consequently, the wilful killing of children in Gaza surely requires the ICC prosecutor to use his independent powers to initiate prosecutions urgently. Failure to do so will serve to exacerbate the growing cynicism that international criminal law is applied selectively for political purposes.

“Save the Children has reported that the number of children killed in Gaza over the last three weeks has surpassed the annual number of children killed across all the world’s conflict zones since 2019. Since October 7, more than 3,257 children are reported to have been killed. This includes at least 3,195 in Gaza, 33 in the West Bank and 29 in Israel. Children make up more than 40% of the 7,703 people killed in Gaza. Save the Children estimates that these numbers are likely to go up, given that over 1,000 children are missing, with many trapped under the ruins and rubble as a result of Israel’s indiscriminate airstrikes on Gaza,” said the department.

The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan was at the Rafah crossing over the weekend where he expressed concern over the situation in Gaza.

He said they need to see justice in action and that people must see that justice works for them.

He said justice must focus on the vulnerable.

Khan said while he was not able to enter Gaza, he could tell that beyond the Rafah crossing there were innocent children and civilians who were victims of the conflict.

Khan warned that impeding relief supplies may constitute a crime. He said Israel must ensure that civilians receive water, food and medicine.

These supplies must get to the people of Gaza without delay.

Khan said he was alarmed to see the bodies of children who have been killed and those injured taken to health facilities.

It was not acceptable that civilians have been caught up in the war. He said civilians were protected by the Rome Statute.

Israel has legal obligation in its war with Hamas to comply with international humanitarian law.

He said he condemns the violence on both sides of the conflict.

“When I became prosecutor in 2021, I established a team, for the first time, to focus on the Palestine situation. For the last two years I have been calling, requesting and pleading for additional resources. I have also been steadily increasing the resources in personnel for the Palestine investigation, I did this to make sure I could discharge my responsibilities and the office could discharge its responsibilities the best it can.

“In December, in the assembly of all state parties, I highlighted the priorities for this year, my prayer and my hope that I will be able to go to Israel and Palestine. I did that because the Palestine issue has always been and remains an important investigation in the ICC. It’s one that cannot be forgotten and it’s one conducted as effective as we can,” said Khan.

“I have made an effort to enter Gaza, but it is simply not possible. In Gaza I wanted to meet those who are suffering tremendous pain and hear their experience first-hand,” said Khan.

But the ICC has to see there was justice on both sides.