Cabinet reiterates call for an end to Gaza conflict

Monday, November 20, 2023

Cabinet has reiterated the call made by African leaders for an end to the conflict in Gaza, during the African-Saudi Summit in Riyadh hosted by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. 

The summit condemned the targeting of civilians, and the violations of international law by the Israeli government.

“The world cannot simply standby and watch. The global community needs to rise to stop this genocide now,” Minister in The Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said during a media briefing on the outcomes of the Cabinet meeting, on Monday.

Ntshavheni said Cabinet continues 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. This is in addition to the continued attacks on hospital staff, patients and hospital infrastructure.  

Ntshavheni noted that it is because of these continued atrocities that are being committed with impunity by the Israeli government with the support and protection of powerful countries that on 17 November 2023, South Africa, together with the Comoros, Djibouti, Bolivia and Bangladesh, jointly referred the situation in Palestine and Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

While the Palestinian Authority did ask the ICC to investigate crimes under the court’s jurisdiction in 2018, the Minister said South Africa believes the current atrocities, particularly in Gaza needs renewed attention with the full backing of state parties. 

“Our 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 arrest for these leaders including Prime Minister Netanyahu will be issued shortly.  

“The ICC has been able to investigate the situation in Palestine since 2021 when the issue of territorial jurisdiction was settled, however, we have noted that the office of the prosecutor has continued to drag its feet despite the gravity of the situation. The current atrocities may not have occurred if these investigations took place as soon as the Palestinian Authorities first made its referral.”

Ntshavheni said South Africa now expects that other state parties also 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.  

“Failure to do so will be indicative of a lack of will to act by 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.”

The Minister also noted that more children have been killed over the last month than those killed per annum in all conflicts combined for the last three years. This include more United Nations (UN) staff members who have been killed in Gaza since the founding of the United Nations. 

“The numbers of journalists killed have been staggering. 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. –