The deliberate bombardment of civilian homes, neighbourhoods, schools, UN compounds, and almost all hospitals since October 7th are indescribable war crimes committed by the Israeli armed forces, Ambassador Tebogo Seokolo writes.
Ambassador Tebogo Seokolo
The world has watched as over 25,500 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza over the past three and a half months from the Israeli bombardment – the heaviest bombing campaign in modern history.
Well over 7,000 more have died agonising deaths under the rubble away from the glare of the cameras. Over 63,000 have been seriously wounded.
The deliberate bombardment of civilian homes, neighbourhoods, schools, UN compounds, and almost all hospitals since October 7th are indescribable war crimes committed by the Israeli armed forces.
Palestinians have been bombed sheltering in their homes, on their streets, lying on the floors of hospitals rendered inoperable due to Israel’s refusal to provide Gaza with fuel, electricity, water, food, or adequate humanitarian supplies.
It is the children of Gaza who have borne the brunt of this inhumanity. Women and children make up 70 percent of the victims.
Day after day we watch the bloodied bodies of young children being carried into what is left of hospitals where no one can help them as the doctors have been killed and those who remain have nothing to work with.
Week after week the doctors in Gaza have said they are operating on children without anaesthetics and have pleaded with the world to ensure that they get the necessary medical supplies to operate humanely.
The 2,000 pound bombs continue to fall while Israeli soldiers celebrate detonating bombs in apartment buildings which wipe out entire neighbourhoods.
The world knows what is happening, but the international community, particularly our partners in the West, have turned a deaf ear and chosen not to speak out against this genocide for fear of being labelled anti-semitic by the well-oiled Israeli propaganda machine, or are too deep in business with the Israeli government.
They have in the process been complicit in the crime of genocide, the worst of this century. They cannot say they didn’t know that currently more than 80 percent of the catastrophic hunger in the world is now in Gaza and more may die from hunger than even from air strikes.
There is no safe drinkable water in Gaza and the WHO reports there are soaring rates of infectious disease outbreaks.
Ordinary people worldwide have not kept quiet, they continue to come out in their millions, marching in capitals around the world saying, “not in our name” and demanding that their governments take action to arrest this genocide.
While the mainstream media may have stopped covering the horrendous crimes of the Israeli onslaught which only get worse by the day, social media has enabled young people around the world to be exposed to the truth of what is happening, and Al Jazeera has been unfailing in its raw coverage of the horrors of this war.
All of Israel’s acts in Gaza collectively form a pattern of conduct that points to genocidal intent. The statements of Israel’s cabinet ministers and military commanders have repeatedly exposed their intent to commit genocide against the Palestinian people, which have been repeated by soldiers on the ground in Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Israeli forces, urging soldiers to “Remember what Amalek has done to you,” referring to a biblical command to put to death men, women, children, infants and animals.
The statement was repeated by Netanyahu in a letter to the Israeli armed forces on 3 November 2023.
The Minister of Defence Yoav Gallant addressed the army on October 9th saying, “I have ordered a complete siege of the Gaza strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed…. We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly”.
Speaking to Israeli troops on the border Gallant said he had “released all restraints” and that “Gaza won’t return to what it was before. We will eliminate everything… we will reach all places”.
The Deputy Speaker of the Knesset called for the “erasure of the Gaza strip from the face of the earth”.
The Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Israel Katz called for the denial of water and fuel as “this is what will happen to a people of children killers and slaughterers”.
The Minister of Heritage Amichai Eliyahu said that Israel “must find ways for Gazans that are more painful than death”. The Israeli President Isaac Hertzog claimed the entire population of Gaza is responsible.
The Minister of National Security said that Hamas and all civilians were responsible in equal measure and gave orders to destroy.
The statements made by those in charge of the Israeli state were not ambiguous to the soldiers, they were directing strategy.
South Africa is not alone in pointing to Israel’s genocidal rhetoric as 15 UN Special Rapporteurs and 21 members of UN working groups have pointed to the same.
As a State party to the Geneva Convention, South Africa has an obligation to prevent genocide, which is why it had no choice but to take this case to the ICJ and seek urgent provisional measures that will protect the Palestinian people against harm, and force Israel to immediately stop its military operations in Gaza.
When Gambia took Myanmar to the International Court of Justice, arguing that Myanmar was committing genocidal acts against the Rohingya, the Court ordered provisional measures to stop these acts with immediate effect.
Israel can no longer consider itself above international law.
The rights of Palestinians are just as worthy of protection as the rights of other people. South Africa is confident that justice will prevail and very soon the ICJ will rule on provisional measures. Just as Martin Luther King Jr said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”.
** Ambassador Tebogo Seokolo is the Acting Deputy Director General: Africa at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa and former Chairperson of the Board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
** The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of IOL/Independent Media.