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South African foreign minister: Citizens in IDF to be arrested on return

The audience at an African National Congress event reportedly cheered her announcement.

Naledi Pandor, the foreign minister of South Africa, said at an African National Congress event earlier this week that South Africa will arrest citizens who serve in the Israel Defense Forces upon their return to South Africa.

Blinken Naledi Pandor
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.

“I’ve already issued a statement alerting those who are South African and who are fighting alongside or in the Israeli Defense Force [sic]; we are ready—when you come home, we will arrest you,” Pandor said to crowd applause, per Israeli media.

South Africa accused Israel of committing genocide in a case it brought before the International Court of Justice, the principal U.N. judicial arm, in The Hague, late last year.

“South Africa has no regrets about becoming the first country to file a lawsuit against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to end its ‘deadly and relentless genocidal bombardment’ of Gaza,” an official South African government publication wrote on Wednesday.

“Over 70 000 have been injured while 10,000 are missing under rubble. This brings the number of civilian casualties to about 110,000, amounting to roughly 5% of Gaza’s 2.3 million population. We will not condone genocide,” Paul Mashatile, deputy South African president, told members of Parliament on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Tom Kean (R-N.J.) and 23 other members of Congress wrote a letter to Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, thanking him “for announcing your country’s intention to intervene on Israel’s behalf as a third party against the accusations of genocide brought up by South Africa in the International Court of Justice.”

“We applaud your decision to stand beside Israel against these
baseless claims made in the international arena by South Africa,” the 25 members of Congress wrote.

“It is crucial that the international community address the misleading, meritless and untruthful nature of South Africa’s accusations, seemingly designed to hinder Israel from acting in selfdefense in response to the heinous terrorist attacks on Oct. 7,” they added. “Unsurprisingly, South Africa’s claim barely acknowledges the atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists, who murdered, decapitated, burned alive and raped over 1,200 innocent men, women and children.”

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