Government welcomes ICC arrest warrants application


Government has welcomed the decision by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Kahn KC, on the application for arrest warrants that include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others, for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The application for arrest warrants is for the Prime Minister, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and three leaders of Hamas – Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri and Ismail Haniyeh.

This is within the context of the present conflict raging in Gaza.

In a statement, President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa – which has been a leading proponent for a ceasefire in that conflict – remains committed to ‘the international rule of law’.

‘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.

‘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. 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,’ President Ramaphosa said.

In a statement on Monday, ICC prosecutor Karim Kahn KC said based on evidence, his office has reasonable grounds to believe that Netanyahu and Gallant ‘bear criminal responsibility for the following war crimes and crimes against humanity’:

Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare as a war crime contrary to article 8(2)(b)(xxv) of the Statute;

Wilfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health contrary to article 8(2)(a)(iii), or cruel treatment as a war crime contrary to article 8(2)(c)(i);

Wilful killing contrary to article 8(2)(a)(i), or Murder as a war crime contrary to article 8(2)(c)(i);

Intentionally direc
ting attacks against a civilian population as a war crime contrary to articles 8(2)(b)(i), or 8(2)(e)(i);

Extermination and/or murder contrary to articles 7(1)(b) and 7(1)(a), including in the context of deaths caused by starvation, as a crime against humanity;

Persecution as a crime against humanity contrary to article 7(1)(h);

Other inhumane acts as crimes against humanity contrary to article 7(1)(k).

On the other hand, Kahn said his office has reasonable grounds to believe that Hamas leaders, Sinwar, Al-Masri and Haniyeh ‘bear criminal responsibility for the following war crimes and crimes against humanity’:

Extermination as a crime against humanity, contrary to article 7(1)(b) of the Rome Statute;

Murder as a crime against humanity, contrary to article 7(1)(a), and as a war crime, contrary to article 8(2)(c)(i);

Taking hostages as a war crime, contrary to article 8(2)(c)(iii);

Rape and other acts of sexual violence as crimes against humanity, contrary to article 7(1)(g), and also as war crimes pur
suant to article 8(2)(e)(vi) in the context of captivity;

Torture as a crime against humanity, contrary to article 7(1)(f), and also as a war crime, contrary to article 8(2)(c)(i), in the context of captivity;

Other inhumane acts as a crime against humanity, contrary to article 7(l)(k), in the context of captivity;

Cruel treatment as a war crime contrary to article 8(2)(c)(i), in the context of captivity; and

Outrages upon personal dignity as a war crime, contrary to article 8(2)(c)(ii), in the context of captivity.

The Israeli-Hamas conflict has claimed the lives of more than 34 000 Palestinians including women and children.

Conflict in the region escalated on October 7 last year when a Hamas led attack killed more than 1000 people in Israel.

Recently, South Africa returned to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to seek an urgent order from the court for the protection of Palestinian people in Gaza amid Israel’s ongoing military assault on Rafah.

READ | South Africa seeks additional provisional
measures in Gaza

The urgent application filed earlier this month follows the escalation of Israel’s assault on Rafah, which poses an extreme risk to humanitarian supplies, basic services into Gaza, the survival of the Palestinian medical system, and the survival of Palestinians in Gaza as a group.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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