/ 21 May 2024

Ramaphosa welcomes ICC seeking arrest warrants in Israeli-Palestinian war

Palestine Supporters Demonstrate In Front Of The International Court Of Justice In The Hague
Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu via Getty Images

President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the decision by the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to seek arrest warrants for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as three leaders of Hamas, for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“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,” Ramaphosa’s office said.

He reiterated South Africa’s call for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip and its support  for the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.

“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,” said Ramaphosa.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said on Monday he had applied for arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant over the war in Gaza. Khan accused Hamas leaders, including Ismail Haniyeh and Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar, of bearing criminal responsibility for atrocities committed in the 7 October 2023 attacks on Israel.

Last week, South Africa pleaded before the International Court of Justice for stronger provisional orders against Israel pending the ruling on the genocide case it has argued.

The main provisional measure it has asked for is that Israel immediately cease its military operations in the Gaza Strip and withdraw from the besieged enclave. It is also seeking a stronger order on the provision of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian population.

Ramaphosa said South Africa’s commitment to international law “together with the paralysis experienced in the United Nations Security Council preventing it from exercising its peace and security mandate with respect to the conflict in Gaza” informed the country’s recourse to the ICJ.

“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,” he said. 

“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.”