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update deskIsrael at War

South Africa threatens to prosecute citizens fighting for IDF

S.A. president denounces Israel's response to Hamas's Oct. 7 massacre as a "genocidal onslaught.”

A Palestinian man hangs a picture of former South African leader Nelson Mandela next to a poster of former Palestinian chief Yasser Arafat, at a memorial service for Mandela in Jerusalem's Old City on Dec. 8, 2013. Photo by Sliman Khader/FLASH90.
A Palestinian man hangs a picture of former South African leader Nelson Mandela next to a poster of former Palestinian chief Yasser Arafat, at a memorial service for Mandela in Jerusalem's Old City on Dec. 8, 2013. Photo by Sliman Khader/FLASH90.

The South African government has threatened to prosecute citizens fighting for the Israel Defense Forces against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip, according to a Monday report by Agence France Presse.

Pretoria said it was “gravely concerned” that some S.A. nationals have joined the Israeli military, adding: “Such action can potentially contribute to the violation of international law and the commission of further international crimes, thus making them liable for prosecution in South Africa.”

The report suggested that South Africans need government approval to fight for Israel and that the S.A. State Security Agency was tracking down those who had enlisted.

South Africans are at risk of having their citizenship stripped for engaging in a war that the country “does not support or agree with,” the report said, citing a Foreign Ministry statement.

On Monday, S.A. President Cyril Ramaphosa denounced Israel’s response to Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre of residents of communities facing the Gaza Strip as a “genocidal onslaught and slaughter of the people of Palestine.”

Earlier this month, a senior Hamas delegation arrived in S.A. to participate in the Fifth Global Convention of Solidarity with Palestine. The delegation included politburo member Bassem Naim, Hamas representative in Iran Khaled Qaddoumi and the representative in East, Central and Southern Africa Emad Saber.

S.A. is one of few countries that recognizes Hamas as a legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

In November, the National Assembly, S.A.’s parliament, passed a non-binding resolution by 248–91 to close the Israel Embassy and suspend diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

A week before, Israel recalled its ambassador to South Africa for consultations after the country’s ruling African National Congress accused the Jewish state of “genocide” in Gaza. ANC spokeswoman Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said: “We cannot sit back and watch the genocidal actions of the Israeli regime.”

The move came two weeks after Pretoria recalled its diplomats from Israel.

“We are … extremely concerned at the continued killing of children and innocent civilians in the Palestinian territories and we believe the nature of response by Israel has become one of collective punishment,” S. A. Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said at the time.

Pandor spoke by phone with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh on Oct. 17, less than two weeks after the terror organization invaded southwestern Israel and massacred 1,200 people, wounded more than 5,000 others, and took some 240 hostages back to Gaza.

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