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Wednesday, 15 November 2023 19:26

South Africa refers Israel to ICC for Gaza bombardment 'war crimes'.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa has referred Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for "war crimes" in its bombardment of Gaza.

"As South Africa we have accordingly together along with many other countries in the world saw fit to refer this whole Israeli government action to the International Criminal Court, "Ramaphosa said in a televised briefing.

"We have put through a referral because we believe that war crimes are being committed there and of course we do not condone the actions that were taken by Hamas earlier.

"But similarly we condemn the actions that are now currently underway and believe that they warrant investigation by the ICC."

More than 11,100 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to Gaza's Health Ministry.

While there is no breakdown between fighters and civilians, most of the dead are women and children. In just a little over a month of war, that amounts to over 0.5 percent of Gaza's more than 2 million people.

The war in Gaza has also spurred violence to Israel's north and east.

Ramaphosa is currently on a two-day State Visit in Qatar at the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar.

The visit occurs in the context of three decades of diplomatic relations. The two countries will celebrate the 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations on 11 May 2024. This is Ramaphosa's first visit to the State of Qatar as Head of State.

Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor said, "the world has seen enough of the tragedy in Gaza and it is time for countries to use their influence over Israel to put a stop to "this real crime against humanity"

"It is only countries that have influence over Israel who can stop this real crime against humanity that we are seeing right before our eyes."

The Palestinian people experience conditions similar to those in apartheid South Africa, she added.

South Africa has been outspoken about the plight of Palestinians and recalled its diplomat from Israel this month, as the death toll from Israel’s bombardment of Gaza continues to climb.

Meanwhile Ramaphosa has deemed his visit to Qatar as significant, saying it serves as an opportunity to discuss and share views on the recent international developments. 

Ramaphosa told the roundtable that while the political relationship between the two countries is strong, much more can be done with each other in areas of trade, investment and economic development. 

The President highlighted that South Africa is Africa's most industrialised economy with well-established companies.

He told the roundtable that many of these companies are active in the Middle East and Qatar. The President mentioned companies like Sasol in the petro-chemical sector with its advanced technologies and iconic consumer brands such as Nandos and Ocean Basket. 

"South African has well developed manufacturing and services sectors. South African agriculture and agro-processing companies are world class, and we can support the Food Security Program of the State of Qatar. 

"Beyond these, South Africa is developing its expertise in areas such as pharmaceuticals, the space industry and advanced manufacturing, " he said. 

The President said South Africa is developing greater market access across the world. 

He mentioned that the country has free trade agreements in place with the European Union and the United Kingdom and is about to implement the African Continental Free Trade Area, uniting 54 economies into a large tariff-free market intended to cover 1.3 billion consumers. 

In addition, South Africa currently has access to the US market on preferential terms through the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) and preferential access to certain Latin American markets.