South Africa’s Minister Naledi Pandor spoke at a Cape Town mosque.
Minister Naledi Pandor says all states have a legal obligation to ensure respect for the provisional measures, and not be complicit in genocide.
South Africa’s Minister of International Relations, Naledi Pandor, has warned that all states have a legal obligation to uphold the provisional measures ordered by the ICJ in regard to Israel’s actions in Gaza, adding that failure to do so is complicity in the crimes of genocide.
“Despite its claims, these orders are binding upon Israel. It has to immediately implement these provisional measures to prevent a further increase of its human rights violations,” Pandor said on Sunday. She was speaking at a public report back session on the case, at a Cape Town mosque.
“In fact, all states now have a legal obligation to ensure respect for the provisional measures as well as ensure that they are not complicit in the genocide,” Pandor explained.
She added, “Essentially if the case proceeds as we anticipate, and it is found that Israel committed genocide, all those who were complicit are as guilty as Israel.”
On January 26, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to adopt six provisional measures to ensure it, inter alia, takes all measures within its power to prevent genocide. South Africa brought the case to the World Court in December, accusing Israel of committing the crime of genocide in Gaza in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention, which both countries are party to.
Minister Pandor said “There are many who are seeking to undermine these orders, for example, the attempt to redefine it so that the killings continue.”
“Some Western governments immediately said, ‘we hear the judgement, but they didn’t order a ceasefire.’ We can see this only as aiding and abetting.”
The minister said “This order for us, is a win for international law, and for the Genocide Convention which embodies the solemn pledge to prevent the crime of genocide and hold those responsible to account.”
She continued that it is “truly tragic” that the Genocide Convention “which was drafted following the holocaust against Jewish people in Europe, that it is the very people who then moved to Palestine who are offending this Convention.”
‘Israel Stands Naked to the World’
Minister Pandor stressed that despite Israel’s “attempts to block the ICJ from making this order, and in its failed attempt to spin the judgment itself as a victory for them, Israel stands facing the international community and peoples of the world.”
It stands “having failed to deflect attention from its crimes or justify its unfolding genocide. It is now naked to the world, for the first time.”
She explained that “for the first time in 75 years, Israel is being held accountable by an institution and by the global community.”
“We have now as South Africa broken a dangerous culture of impunity that has characterized the illegal occupation of Palestine. The oppression of apartheid in Palestine, and its now unfolding genocide. For the first time, we have opened up for the world to see. We, South Africa.”
The minister impressed upon the audience that “although we have won our freedom from the oppression of apartheid, it is our duty to seek that freedom for all humanity, for all who are oppressed, this is our duty and we must carry it out.”
Before filing a case against Israel at the ICJ, South Africa also referred Israel to the International Criminal Court for an investigation into alleged war crimes committed in its ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip. A few other countries joined South Africa in that referral.
Minister Pandor said South Africa took those actions “in an attempt to save lives, for justice, peace, and for an end to violent occupation.”
She emphasized that during the struggle against apartheid, the international community joined in, “in developing a concept, some of us forget, called international solidarity.”
“While we waged a mighty struggle against apartheid, our leaders went from country to country across the world and asked for support,” she explained.
“That is all that is making us stand up today, that being free, enjoying human rights, having a constitution, having sovereign right to your land does not mean you enjoy it purely for yourself. Having been joined in international solidarity, your task today is to join the world in fighting for the people of Palestine until they are free. This is what we must do.”
Killed and Displaced
Israel is being accused of committing genocide in Gaza. According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 27,478 Palestinians have been killed, and 66,835 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.
Moreover, at least 8,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.
Palestinian and international estimates say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.
The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all of the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.
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Nurah Tape is a South Africa-based journalist. She is an editor with The Palestine Chronicle.