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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

SA welcomes ICC announcement seeking arrest warrants for Netanyahu and others

Prosecutor Karim Kahn said he was seeking the warrants for crimes including “starvation”, “wilful killing”, and “extermination and/or murder

The South African government has welcomed an announcement by the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) prosecutor saying he had requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his defence chief and three Hamas leaders over alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza.

ICC prosecutor Karim Kahn on Monday said he was seeking the warrants for crimes including “starvation”, “wilful killing”, and “extermination and/or murder

 “We submit that the crimes against humanity charged were committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population pursuant to State policy. These crimes, in our assessment, continue to this day,” said Khan in reference to Netanyahu and Gallant.

The charges laid against the Hamas leaders include “extermination”, “rape and other acts of sexual violence”, and “taking hostages as a war crime”.

Rule of law

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the law must be applied equally to all in order to uphold the international rule of law, ensure accountability for those that commit “heinous crimes and protect the rights of victims.”

“The Rome statute is premised on holding those most responsible for atrocity crimes accountable for their conduct.

“South Africa is committed to the international rule of law, universal respect for human rights and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation and not war, and the self-determination of all peoples, including the Palestinians,” Ramaphosa said.  

ALSO READ: WATCH: ‘ICC should’ve issued warrant of arrest for Netanyahu’ − Pandor

UN paralysis

Ramaphosa said the commitment by the ICC together with the “paralysis experienced in the United Nations Security Council,” preventing it from exercising its peace and security mandate in Gaza resulted in South Africa in approaching the International Court of Justice (ICJ) with a view to  “restrain Israeli action and protect Palestinian civilians.”

“We have also consistently held that all participants to the conflict must ensure that fighting and hostilities come to an immediate end, that all hostages must be released immediately, and that Israel immediately withdraws its military forces from Gaza.

“This is the only way in which the rights of the Palestinian civilian population can be protected and the basis for sustainable peace can be achieved,” Ramaphosa said.

World reaction

Netanyahu said the ICC decision was a disgrace and an attack on Israel

Hamas denounced Khan’s decision to seek arrest warrants against its leaders, accusing him of trying to “equate the victim with the executioner”.

US President Joe Biden called the application for an arrest warrant for Netanyahu and Gallant “outrageous,” while France said it supports the ICC, its independence, and the fight against impunity in all situations.”

Last week South Africa petitioned the ICJ to order a stop to the Israeli assault on the Gaza city of Rafah.

ALSO READ: WATCH: ‘Israel intent on destroying Palestinian life’ – SA pushes for urgent ICJ action