South Africans Face Prosecution for Joining Israeli Army

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: Kremlin, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Nurah Tape – The Palestine Chronicle  

The South African government has issued a stern warning to its citizens who either have joined or intend to join the Israeli army that they risk prosecution for breaking the law. 

In a statement issued on Monday, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said it was “gravely concerned by reports that some South African citizens and permanent residents have joined or considering joining the IDF in the war on Gaza and in the other Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

“Such action can potentially contribute to the violation of international law and the commission of further international crimes, thus making them liable for prosecution in South Africa,” the statement said. 

DIRCO said that “any person wishing to render foreign military assistance in Israel must first apply to the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NACC) who will make a recommendation to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans” to either grant or refuse such an application. 

Any person joining the IDF without the necessary permission of the NCACC is breaking the law and can be prosecuted, the statement added.

Prosecution and Possible Prison Term

Spokesperson for DIRCO, Clayson Monyela, told the Palestine Chronicle that the government is aware of South Africans who have joined the occupation forces “taking videos of themselves and putting it on social media.”

“The law is very clear, they will face consequences because what they are doing is criminalized in terms of our law,” he said.

Asked what these consequences could be, Monyela said: “They will be charged, and dragged through the courts to answer for their actions.”

He said “The law provides for a prison term for doing what these people are doing. But the decision will be in the hands of the courts.”

Palestinian Embassy Calls on Other Countries to Do the Same

The Embassy of the State of Palestine in Pretoria has welcomed the position taken by the South African government “regarding the participation of some of its dual-citizenship nationals, holding Israeli citizenship, in the occupation war against our people.”

“The ministry calls on other countries to adopt a similar policy and declare positions in line with South Africa’s commitment to international law and rejection of their citizens’ participation in the genocide war against the Palestinian people.”

Also on Monday, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa met with a delegation of the United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA), a Muslim religious body, and the South African Friends of Palestine (SAFP).

South Africa Refers Israel to ICC for War Crimes Investigation

Amongst the issues raised was that of South Africans who had joined the Israeli occupation forces, as well as the role of economic sanctions in isolating Israel. 

Ramaphosa reiterated the ANC’s “unequivocal support of the people of Palestine, for their freedom and self-determination.”

“We used this opportunity to clearly set out the various measures that we have been taking – both as the ANC as well as government – to deal with the situation unfolding in Gaza, the Middle East, and to reiterate our solidarity with the people of Palestine,” he explained. 

He said this was done “not out of political adventurism” but as “a matter of principle.”

This, he said, was “borne out of our own experience as the people of South Africa who struggled against an oppressive apartheid system…”

Ramaphosa added that “we have seen similar features of what the Palestinians are going through as what we as South Africans went through.”

“That is why we have said that what is unfolding in Gaza is a genocidal onslaught and slaughter of the people of Palestine.”

South Africa’s Parliament Votes to Suspend Relations with Israel

‘Complete Ceasefire’ Call by Ramaphosa

For this reason, Ramaphosa said, his government has called for “a complete ceasefire”, adding that “the slaughter of people in Gaza must stop.” 

Highlighting the situation in the West Bank, he said “it too must be brought to an end.” 

He said just as Israeli captives must be released, so too “must the prisoners who are also being held in Israeli prisons also be released.”

This, he said, is in order “to create a conducive environment for peaceful discussions and negotiations to ensue.”

The South African government has withdrawn all diplomatic staff from Tel Aviv, while Israel recalled its ambassador from Pretoria. 

In November, the country’s parliament voted in favor of a motion calling for the closure of the Israeli embassy as well as the suspension of all diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv.

“We have seriously noted the resolution, that process of evaluating how we can proceed is currently underway,” he said. 

South Africa also joined a few other countries in referring Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for an investigation into war crimes committed in its onslaught on the besieged Gaza Strip. 

In a meeting with the South African Jewish Board of Deputies last Wednesday, Ramaphosa called for the resumption of negotiations between Palestinians and Israel that will lead to a two-state solution along the 1967 internationally recognised borders with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine”, according to the Presidency. 

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 19,667 Palestinians have been killed and 52,586 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)

– Nurah Tape is a South Africa-based journalist. She is an editor with The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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  1. My request for the South African government would be to conduct an analysis of the Israel Defense Force and the settlers in the West Bank and Gaza from 1967 to the current day, in the light of the various definitions of terrorism currently available, including the ever-present FBI definition (which I used following the Mosque Massacres in Christchurch NZ to argue the mass murderer was a terrorist). And then, since the US has been so kind as to demand the world counter terrorism by all means possible, prosecute the South Africans who have joined the IDF under the very laws that the US has demanded SA and others comply with.

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