President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the Gaza genocide case against Israel.
This comes after the United Nations (UN) top court ordered Israel to take steps to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza and do more to help Palestinian civilians, as Israel continues to wage war against Hamas militants.
In a landmark judgment, the ICJ determined that it was “plausible” that Israel has committed acts that violate the Genocide Convention.
“We have called Israel’s attacks on Gaza genocidal acts; acts for which Israel should and must be held accountable. Today the International Court of Justice has vindicated us,” President Ramaphosa said on Friday.
The country’s First Citizen was speaking to the nation in a televised address following the landmark ruling by the ICJ.
The war which began in October last year has already claimed more than 25 000 lives in Gaza, of which more than 16 000 of the dead are women and children.
The President cited the UN Children’s Fund, which labelled Gaza as a “graveyard for thousands of children”.
It is for this reason the President believes today’s judgment marks an important first step in the quest to secure justice for the people of Gaza.
The President said South Africa stands on the side of freedom and justice for all.
“Thirty years ago, following our first democratic elections, President Nelson Mandela declared, ‘Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another’.”
South Africa approached the ICJ in December last year, under the Genocide Convention, for alleged attacks committed by Israel in Gaza.
In its application, South Africa pleaded with the court to indicate provisional measures to “protect against further severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people under the Genocide Convention”.
The country also requested the ICJ to ensure Israel does not engage in genocide.
Handing down the court’s unanimous decision, ICJ Judge President Joan Donoghue said it was necessary pending its final decision to indicate certain measures to protect the rights claimed by South Africa.
Donoghue also stated that Israel must per its obligations under the Genocide Convention take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of the Convention.
Acts of genocide named in the convention include the killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to the members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; and imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.
“We firmly believe that following this judgment there should now be a more concerted effort towards a ceasefire and negotiations should commence on a permanent two-state solution, to enable Israel and Palestine to live side by side as independent states,” said the President.
President Ramaphosa thanked the international community who have supported the country’s application and those who declared their intention to be part of the application.
“We will not waiver in our commitment to the Palestinian people and their quest for self-determination. Our own painful history obliges us to do no less.”
He also thanked the World Court for holding those guilty of genocide accountable and thanked the lawyers and the Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation and Justice and Correctional Services.
“It is our earnest hope and wish that this court order paves the way for an end to this crisis, for an end to the terrible loss of life and hardship, and for the crucial first steps to be taken towards reconciliation and a just, lasting peace.”
The transcript of proceedings can be accessed at https://www.icj-cij.org/sites/default/files/case-related/192/192-20240126-ord-01-00-en.pdf. – SAnews.gov.za