Dirco: Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians
SA calls on International Criminal Court to investigate possible war crimes in Gaza
The department of international relations and co-operation (Dirco) has blamed Israel for the attack on the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in the Gaza Strip, describing it as part of a “genocidal campaign” against Palestinians.
The department has further called on the International Criminal Court’s (ICC’s) prosecutor, Karim Ahmad Khan, to investigate possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories. Israel is not party to the Rome Statute that established the ICC.
“SA calls on Israel to cease its genocidal campaign against the Palestinians and open the water taps, provide food for civilians, electricity and fuel for the ambulances and hospitals,” Dirco said in a statement on Wednesday.
“We call on the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Ahmad Khan, to immediately signal his intent to investigate this and other war crimes, and the crime of genocide in this conflict, and to include in his investigation the liability of those aiding and abetting these crimes.”
Israel has denied that it attacked the hospital, in which at least 500 people were killed, and said Palestinian authorities were responsible. US president Joe Biden, who is on an official visit to Israel, on Wednesday also suggested the attack came from Hamas.
“Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you. But there’s a lot of people out there not sure, so we’ve got to overcome a lot of things,” Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference.
SA’s statement is the strongest yet since Hamas militants attacked Israeli settlements near the border of the Gaza Strip on October 7.
Dirco confirmed that minister Naledi Pandor spoke to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh by phone on Tuesday where the possibility of opening humanitarian corridors was discussed.
Pandor’s spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele told Business Day the minister was open to similar conversations with the Israeli authorities should the request be made.
“If the Israelis ask the minister to call their minister she would do so,” he said.
SA says the bombing of the hospital is the “most blatant violation of international humanitarian law” because medical staff have no anaesthetics or equipment or supplies to treat the victims.
“Just as the attack by Hamas on civilians in Israel was abhorrent, there are no words to fully express SA’s condemnation of Israel’s bombing of the al-Ahli Arab Baptist hospital on October 17, killing well over 500 people and injuring over 1,000,” Dirco said. “The targeting of a hospital considered a safe haven under international humanitarian law is a war crime.
“Similarly, the killing of the people of Gaza by Israel in 12 days of aerial bombardments of hospitals, schools, apartment buildings, and essential infrastructure are also war crimes. The continual bombardment of civilian targets, the denial of the civilian population of Gaza of water, food, fuel, and electricity is prohibited under international humanitarian law and by the Geneva Conventions.”