First Step in Quest to Secure Justice for Gaza – South African President on ICJ Ruling

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: UN website)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

South African President Cyril Ramphosa has welcomed the ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), saying it “marks an important first step in our quest to secure justice for the people of Gaza.”

In December, South Africa filed a lawsuit with the ICJ requesting an injunction against Israel on the grounds that its attacks on Gaza violate the Genocide Convention. 

 “We welcome the measures that the court ordered by majority decision, ruling that Israel military should not commit acts of genocide against Palestinians,” Ramaphosa said in a live televised address on Friday. 

Included in the ruling, Ramaphosa explained is that Israel should take all measures to prevent and punish incitement to genocide; must take immediate and effective measures to allow basic services and humanitarian assistance to Gaza; and it should preserve evidence of what is happening in Gaza, as well as submit a report within a month on all measures taken to give effect to the ICJ order within one month. 

“We expect Israel as a self-proclaimed democracy and a state that respects the rule of law to abide by the measures handed down by the International Court of Justice,” the president stressed.

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‘Evidence of Genocidal Intent’

South Africa presented its case to the ICJ on January 11 in which it contended that “the evidence of genocidal intent” by Israel in Gaza was “not only chilling” but “also overwhelming and incontrovertible.”  Israel presented its counterarguments the following day. 

Ramaphosa said that after more than half a century “of occupation, dispossession, oppression, and apartheid, the Palestinian people’s cries for justice have been heeded by an eminent organ of the United Nations.”

The high civilian death toll, he said, as well as the sheer scale of the destruction that resulted from Israel’s response “to the 7 October attacks is vastly disproportionate to any claim by Israel that it has been acting in self-defense.”

“We have called Israel’s attacks on Gaza genocidal acts, acts for which Israel should and must be held accountable.”

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According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 26,083 Palestinians have been killed, and 64,487 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.

Ramaphosa said his country has been criticized for taking this action against Israel, with some saying it should mind its own business, and others saying it was “not our place.”

“And yet it is very much our place, as people who know too well the pain of dispossession, discrimination, state-sponsored violence,” he added.

Today the International Court of Justice has vindicated us,” the President stated.

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Concerted Ceasefire Efforts

He further said that following the judgment, there should 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.”

 “We will not waver in our commitment to the Palestinian people and their quest for self-determination. Our own painful history obliges us to do no less.” 

Ramaphosa thanked the ICJ for “upholding its role of achieving justice, promoting peace, preventing genocide and holding those guilty of genocide accountable.”

Earlier, South Africa’s Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation headed by Naledi Pandor, said in a statement that “South Africa sincerely hopes that Israel will not act to frustrate the application of this Order, as it has publicly threatened to do, but that it will instead act to comply with it fully, as it is bound to do.”

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In November, South Africa also referred Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) because it believed “that war crimes have been committed there”. 

“Gaza has turned into a concentration camp where genocide is taking place,” Ramaphosa had said. 

In addition to the high number of those killed and wounded, up to 1.9 million Palestinians (or over 85% of the population) have been internally displaced across the Gaza Strip, some multiple times, according to The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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