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South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor. (Photo: video grab)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Minister Naledi Pandor says South Africa is “horrified” at what is happening in Rafah, and questions why no measures are being taken to put a peacekeeping force in place in Gaza to protect innocent civilians.

South Africa’s Minister of International Relations, Naledi Pandor, has expressed grave concern that Israel is being allowed to ignore the rulings of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that it should take all measures to prevent acts of genocide being committed in the besieged Gaza Strip. 

 “What is of great concern is that the world is allowing Israel to ignore the rulings of the International Court of Justice,” Minister Pandor told the media on the sidelines of the 44th Session of the African Union Executive Council, at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Wednesday.

Pandor added, “and no one is taking any measure to place a force in Palestine that would be a peace-enforcement force to protect the innocent civilians who have caused no harm whatsoever to Israel.” 

The South African government on Tuesday made an urgent request to the ICJ to consider whether the decision announced by Israel to extend its military operations in Rafah, “which is the last refuge for surviving people in Gaza, requires that the court uses its power to prevent further imminent breach of the rights of Palestinians in Gaza.”

It cited Article 75(1) of the Rules of Court which states that “The Court may at any time decide to examine proprio motu whether the circumstances of the case require the indication of provisional measures which ought to be taken or complied with by any or all of the parties,” 

Pandor said South Africa “is totally horrified at what is happening, continuing to happen to the people of Gaza and the West Bank, and now Rafah.”

“We believe this confirms the allegation (that) we’ve tabled before the ICJ that genocide is underway in the occupied Palestinian territories. And clearly the actions of the Israeli government prove that what we have said is actually accurate.”

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health,  28,576 Palestinians have been killed, and 68,291 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.

Killing of Journalists

Minister Pandor also highlighted the attacks on journalists while on duty in Gaza, describing it as a “terrible infringement” of freedom of speech.

“I can imagine if in Africa we had a conflict where over 170 journalists were killed, the whole world, all media would be talking about this as a terrible infringement of human rights and freedom of expression by Africans,” said Pandor.

“But when it is Israeli forces, it seems its acceptable that journalists who should operate free and able to report accurately and honestly, when it’s journalists operating in Palestine the world again appears unconcerned”.

She further stressed, “It would never be tolerated for any other region in the world except in Israel, and in Palestine by Israel.”

Genocide Convention Obligations

In December 2023, South Africa filed a case with the World Court accusing Israel of failing to fulfill its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Following two hearings on January 11 and 12, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel on January 26 to take measures to prevent and punish direct incitement of genocide in its ongoing war in Gaza.

An overwhelming majority of the ICJ’s 17-judge panel voted to order urgent measures, which covered most of South Africa’s request, aside from ordering a halt to the Israeli war on Gaza.

The court ordered Israel to refrain from any acts that could fall under the genocide convention and also ensure that the Israeli army do not commit any genocidal acts in Gaza.

Despite the ruling, Israel’s aggression and crimes against Palestinian civilians continued.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed  and wounded in Gaza are women and children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all of the GazaStrip, 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.

(Palestine Chronicle)

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