South Africa said Friday it is “gravely concerned” about the plight of civilians caught in Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip due to the indiscriminate use of force and forcible removal of inhabitants.
“There are ongoing reports of international crimes, such as crimes against humanity and war crimes, being committed by Israel in Gaza,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
It said there also reports that acts meeting the threshold of genocide or related crimes as defined in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, have been and may still be committed in the context of ongoing massacres in Gaza.
South Africa said as a country party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, it is under a treaty obligation to prevent genocide from occurring.
Pretoria said as a result, it filed an application instituting proceedings against Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
South Africa, which has repeatedly condemned all forms of attacks against Israeli and Palestinian civilians, said it decided to approach the court Dec. 8.
It said during a special meeting that the Cabinet directed that The Hague-based court be approached to obtain an order directing Israel, which is also a state party, to refrain from any acts that may constitute genocide or related crimes under the Convention.
“An application in this regard was filed before the Court on 29 December 2023 in which the Court is requested to declare on an urgent basis that Israel is in breach of its obligations in terms of the Genocide Convention, should immediately cease all acts and measures in breach of those obligations and take a number of related actions,” it said.
Since a cross-border attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, Israel has continued relentless attacks on the Gaza Strip, killing at least 21,507 Palestinians and injuring 55,915, according to local health authorities.
Israeli authorities claim the Hamas attack has killed around 1,200 Israelis.
The Israeli onslaught has left Gaza in ruins, with 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure damaged or destroyed, and nearly 2 million residents displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine.