Government to get tough on SA citizens found fighting for Israeli forces

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa. Picture: File

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa. Picture: File

Published Dec 19, 2023


The government has taken a tough stance against South Africans found to be working with the Israeli forces in the fight against Palestine.

In a statement on Monday, the government issued a stern warning against those who want to join the war currently under way in Gaza, which has resulted in the death of more than 10 000 children and women.

It said that South African citizens and permanent residents who have reportedly joined Israel Defence Forces (IDF) in the Gaza conflict and other occupied Palestinian territories will be held liable for prosecution in South Africa.

“The South African government is gravely concerned by reports that some South African citizens and permanent residents have joined or are considering joining the IDF in the war in Gaza and the other occupied Palestinian territories,” the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) said on Monday.

The department’s tough talk against those seeking to help in the war in Palestine coincided with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s meeting with the delegations of United Ulama Council and SA Friends of Palestine which was held at Luthuli House on Monday.

“South Africa is sending humanitarian aid to Palestine in the form of food and medical help through the Gift of the Givers,” Ramaphosa said.

The department, led by Minister Naledi Pandor, indicated that supporting the war against Palestine is a clear violation of international law and the commission of further international crimes, making them liable for prosecution in South Africa.

The government indicated that in terms of the Regulation of the Foreign Military Assistance Act, any person wishing to render foreign military assistance in Israel must first apply to the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), which will give its recommendations of approval or refusal to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans.

“Any person joining the IDF without the necessary permission of the NCACC is breaking the law and can be prosecuted,” the department said.

The department has also revealed that the South African Citizenship Act includes those who have become naturalised citizens.

“It is in this context that South African citizens should be made aware of the consequences of joining the IDF or any foreign armed forces involved in conflicts to prevent inadvertent complicity in international crimes or violations of domestic law,” the department said.