‘Chance for Court to Halt Genocide in Gaza’ – South Africa’s Justice Minister

South Africa's Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola. (Photo: video grab, via SABC News)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Addressing the media outside the court on Thursday, Lamola said the world “watched in horror” as Palestinian men, women and children “were slaughtered”.

South Africa’s Minister of Justice, Ronald Lamola, has said that the case against Israel presents the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague with “an opportunity to act, in real time, to prevent genocide from continuing in Gaza.”

Addressing the media outside the court on Thursday, Lamola said the world “watched in horror” as Palestinian men, women and children “were slaughtered, blown up, buried alive under the rubble of their homes, left to die painful deaths in un-resourced hospitals, resulting in over 23000 deaths.” 

“Sadly, the world has not succeeded in stopping the genocide that is currently unfolding in Gaza,” he added.

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The ICJ earlier heard three hours of oral arguments from six members of the South African legal team, on the first day of the case brought against Israel accusing it of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

Lamola stressed that the international community has “largely remained passive in response to these atrocities. Women and children in areas such as refugee camps, schools, and hospitals have been targeted, leading to a humanitarian crisis.”

He said the scale of these actions is reminiscent of the Rwandan genocide 30 years ago.

“We are here, on behalf of South Africa and the global community, to seek justice for the victims, particularly children, women, and the elderly,” the minister explained.

“We believe that without (the) intervention of this Court, of the international community, we will see the total destruction of the Palestinian people. Remaining silent in the face of this, in and of itself, would be a gross violation of international law. 

“We are asking the court to intervene and stop the ongoing massacre in Gaza,” he stressed.

Today, Lamola added, it is a common cause that the Rwandan genocide could have been prevented.

“Let us not have to live with the same regret when it comes to Palestine.”

He said even the “rarely” invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter, by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on December 6, “to press to avert a human catastrophe” and “unite in a call for a full humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza failed.

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“This plea for ubuntu, a plea for the humanity of the international community to prevail was simply ignored. Israel’s institutional impunity was reinforced.”

The philosophy of Ubuntu means ‘humanity’ and is reflected in the idea that we affirm our humanity when we affirm the humanity of others, he explained. 

“Ubuntu means I am because you are. I am because Hamza Al-Dahdouh is. You are because Dunia Abu Mohsen is.”

He said that in keeping with South Africa’s obligations as a state party to the Genocide Convention “our Government has approached the International Court of Justice to prevent the unfolding genocide in Gaza.”

“We have also asked for provisional measures which include an immediate suspension of Israeli military operations in and against Gaza.”

South Africa’s history is one of repression and violence, human rights abuses, apartheid as a crime against humanity, discrimination and distrust between people born on the same soil, he explained.

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“This history enjoins us to stand in principle in solidarity with the people of Palestine,” he said. 

Lamola said “we trust that, after hearing us presenting the facts, the legal arguments, the truth, the Court will grant them (the Palestinians) the protection they seek.”

In its submission, South Africa “asks the Court to indicate provisional measures in order to “protect against further, severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people under the Genocide Convention” and “to ensure Israel’s compliance with its obligations under the Genocide Convention not to engage in genocide, and to prevent and to punish genocide.’”

Israel will present its case on Friday. 

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 23,357 Palestinians have been killed, and 59,410 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7. Palestinian and international estimates say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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