The government of South Africa has called on the International Crime Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by mid-December.
Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni pointed out that if the ICC did not do this, it would signal a ‘total failure’ of global governance.
‘The world cannot simply stand by and watch,’ she said.
Israel says it is defending itself following the 7th of October attack by Hamas which saw 1,200 people killed and more than 200 taken hostage.
It says it is trying to minimise civilian casualties but Ms Ntshavheni said the Israeli government was trying to ‘clear most of Gaza of Palestinians and occupy it’.
South Africa, along with Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros and Djibouti, submitted a referral to the ICC to investigate whether war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Gaza.
South Africa has long been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause.
The country has announced the withdrawal of its diplomats from Israel, and suggested that the position of Israel’s ambassador to Pretoria was becoming ‘untenable’.
Africa Today News, New York reports that the war between Israel and Hamas has exposed deep divisions in South Africa, with the government’s staunch support for the Palestinians coming in for criticism from leaders of the country’s Jewish community, among others.
The government has announced the withdrawal of its diplomats from Israel, and suggested that the position of Israel’s ambassador to Pretoria was becoming ‘untenable’.
This has been sharply criticised by the country’s Jewish Board of Deputies which has called for an urgent meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
South African sympathy for the Palestinian fight for an independent state goes back to the days of late anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.
He famously said in 1997, three years after he became the country’s first democratically elected president after decades of struggle against white-minority rule: ‘We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.’
The unprecedented Hamas attack on Israel, which killed some 1,400 people, has not changed the position of the country’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), even though two South African nationals were among the dead and another is among the more than 230 people taken hostage.