update deskIsrael at War

South Africa urges ICC to issue arrest warrant for Netanyahu

South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor also called for countries giving military aid to Israel to send troops to the Rafah border to escort aid shipments.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor at the U.S. Department of State in Washington on Sept. 15, 2022. Credit: Freddie Everett/U.S. State Department.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor at the U.S. Department of State in Washington on Sept. 15, 2022. Credit: Freddie Everett/U.S. State Department.

South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor has said that the International Criminal Court should have already issued an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “for war crimes committed against Palestinians in Gaza.”

“I believe that the ICC needs to make a decision as to whether in terms of war crimes, are they being committed. They must make the decision, same as they did with the Russian president,” Pandor said in an interview on MSNBC last week during a visit to the United States.

Pandor also addressed South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, saying: “[South Africa is] the only country that has a similar experience to the Palestinian people and that has been firmly attached to the struggle for freedom and human rights.”

The foreign minister also said that she knew how to improve the humanitarian aid situation in Gaza: “We need to get aid into Palestine. I know how we can do it. All the countries, which are powerful countries with big armies, that are giving arms to Israel, they must send their soldiers to the Rafah border to escort the 700 trucks into Gaza.”

After failing in January to convince the ICJ to halt Israel’s defensive war against Hamas in Gaza, South Africa petitioned the court on March 6, citing reports of “widespread starvation” in the Gaza Strip.

Pandor declared in mid-March that South Africa will arrest citizens who serve in the Israel Defense Forces upon their return to South Africa. In June 2015, South Africa welcomed Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to Johannesburg despite his indictment by the ICC for genocide in a campaign of mass killing, rape and pillage against civilians in Darfur. South Africa refused to execute the ICC’s arrest warrant for the Sudanese leader.

Shortly before her visit, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the first reading of a bill that would mandate a review of the U.S.’s bilateral relations with South Africa.

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