SA condemns the unlawful targeting of refugee camps in Rafah 

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The South African government has joined the international community in condemning the “deplorable” and “brutal attacks” on innocent Palestinian civilians.

This is after Israeli forces bombed a tent camp housing displaced Palestinians in a designated safe zone on Sunday night.

According to reports, at least 45 people, including many women and children were killed, with some of these victims reported to be in critical condition.

“The heinous attacks came two days after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to end its military offensive in Rafah, where more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million population had sought shelter before Israel’s incursion of Rafah,” the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement. 

South Africa, according to the department, said it was “gravely” concerned with the continuous targeting of hospitals, medical infrastructure, schools, and holy sites, which shelter civilians who endure most of the inhumane attacks. 

“These continued attacks on innocent civilians pose an extreme risk to humanitarian supplies, basic services in Gaza, the survival of the Palestinian medical system, and the survival of Palestinians in Gaza as a group.” 

The department believes that the current conditions confirm that South Africa is justified for approaching the ICJ in 2023, seeking an order to prevent Israel from committing genocide against the Palestinian people. 

“What we are witnessing today bears testimony to South Africa’s assertions,” the department added. 

The ICJ, the department explained, has jurisdiction over the situation in Palestine.

“We, therefore, call on the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to urgently act to ensure accountability for those that committing heinous crimes and protect the rights of Palestinians. 

“The issuance of arrest warrants which comply with international legal standards is becoming more urgent to bring those responsible to justice. It is the collective duty of the international community to ensure that atrocities of this nature are duly prosecuted in terms of the Rome Statute and the Geneva Conventions.” 

The department believes that there can be no real and lasting peace in the region in the absence of justice for Palestine and a just and equitable resolution to the Palestinian question – for the benefit of both Palestinians and Israelis. 

“Escalation not only threatens regional stability but risks further inflaming an already tense and hugely volatile situation on the ground. Accordingly, it must be regarded as unacceptable and South Africa, therefore, strongly implores de-escalation. 

“The pattern of cyclical escalation must be broken. Our collective human duty to call for a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire cannot be ignored.” 

South Africa is urging the international community to respect and uphold International Law, International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law, and relevant United Nations resolutions. 

“We must pose the question of how long the international community will continue to watch as an entire population is annihilated before the world can unite to urgently act against these brutal and incessant attacks. Nothing can justify the deliberate killings and injuring of civilians as an entire population endures destruction at a scale and speed without parallel in modern history.” –