Gaza turned into ‘concentration camp’ – SA refers Israel to ICC for war crimes
International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor said Benjamin Netanyahu should be arrested for ‘murder of women and children’ in Gaza
Ramaphosa with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani . Photo: GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed South Africa has approached the International Criminal Court (ICC) for an investigation into alleged war crimes in Gaza and accused Israel of turning the enclave into a concentration camp.
Ramaphosa was speaking after a meeting with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Wednesday.
The president’s visit forms part of a celebration of 30 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations.
Conflict in the region had, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, killed more than 11 000 people, most of them women and children. Over 2 600 people, including about 1 400 children, are reported missing, potentially trapped, or deceased beneath the rubble.
Ramaphosa said the situation in Gaza is dire and SA had asked the ICC to investigate Israel’s conduct in Gaza.
“As South Africa, we, with many countries around the world saw fit to refer this whole Israeli government action to the International Criminal Court. We have put through a referral because we believe that war crimes are being committed there.”
“Of course, we do not condone the actions that were taken by Hamas earlier, but similarly, we condemn the actions that are now underway and believe that they warrant investigation by the ICC,” Ramaphosa said.
Gaza concentration camp
Ramaphosa said the area had been turned “into concentration camps where genocide is taking place.”
He also criticised Israel’s attack on hospitals including Gaza’s largest healthcare facility the Al Shifa Hospital on Wednesday. Israel claimed the hospital housed a Hamas command centre and weapons.
Arrest Benjamin Netanyahu
Last week, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, saying the actions by Israel and Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu are a violation of international law, including the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions and all its protocols.
Delivering a statement in the National Assembly on Tuesday afternoon, Pandor said she would have expected that the ICC would have issued an immediate arrest warrant for Netanyahu.
Pandor said the attacks and kidnapping of innocent civilians by Hamas have also violated international law.
The South African government recently issued a démarche, or formal diplomatic protest note, to Israeli ambassador Eliav Belotsercovsky over his remarks about the conflict.
Cabinet described his presence in the country as “untenable”.
“The disparaging remarks against those speaking up against the atrocities and the country’s leaders make Ambassador Belotserkovsky’s position more and more untenable.
“He is a guest in our country and must conduct himself as a guest, and he has no right,” said Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.
On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres again called for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Guterres has expressed deep concern over the extensive loss of life in Gaza, with a specific emphasis on the devastating impact on several hospitals.