Cabinet confirmed its application to the International Criminal Court, together with the Comoros, Djibouti, Bolivia and Bangladesh for a probe into the actions of the state of Israel for commiting crimes against humanity.
Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said cabinet has reiterated the call made by African leaders for an end to the war in Gaza, during the African-Saudi Summit in Riyadh hosted by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, which condemned the targeting of civilians, and the violations of international law by the Israeli government.
Ntshavheni said in a briefing that cabinet continued to be concerned by the atrocities of the Israeli government against the people of Palestine, including the deliberate attacks on the United Nations School in Gaza and the massacre of hundreds of children who had sought refuge at the school, in addition to the continued attacks on hospital staff, patients and hospital infrastructure.
The minister said that while the Palestinian Authority did ask the ICC to investigate crimes under the courts jurisdiction in 2018, it believed that the current atrocities, particularly in Gaza required renewed attention with the full backing of state parties; and confirmed that the SA ambassador in the Hague delivered the referral in person, which asked the ICC to investigate the commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide with a view to holding those most responsible accountable.
“Given that much of the global community are witnessing the commission of these crimes in real time, including statements of genocidal intent by many Israeli leaders, we expect that warrants of arrests for these leaders including Prime Minister Netanyahu will be issued shortly,” Ntshavheni said.
Ntshavheni noted that that ICC has been able to investigate the situation in Palestine since 2021 when the issue of territorial jurisdiction was settled, however, cabinet has noted that the office of the prosecutor has continued to drag its feet despite the gravity of the situation and that the current atrocities may not have occurred if these investigations took place as soon as the Palestinian Authorities first made its referral.
The minister said that the cabinet was expecting other state parties to add their voices for an end to the impunity by Israel, and the significant levels of evidence available, that international warrants of arrest will be issued by the time the conference of parties meet in mid-December in New York.
Ntshavheni said that the failure to act swiftly indicated a lack of will from the ICC and a strong signal to the total failure of the global system of good governance and the need to establish a new system.
More children have been killed over the last month than those killed per annum in all conflicts combined for the last three years; more UN staff members have been killed in Gaza since the founding of the United Nations; and that the numbers of journalists killed was staggering, she said.
“These are all people killed by the actions of the Israeli government, not to defend itself, but, evinced by the statements of its leaders to clear most of Gaza of Palestinians and to occupy it,” the minister said.
Since the war began, 10,000 Palestinians (including 4,000 children) have been killed, 20,000 injured, and 1,600 missing are under rubble, totaling over 30,000 killed or injured, which is about 1.3% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people.