ICJ ruling critical first step towards securing justice for people of Gaza, says Ramaphosa

26 January 2024 - 18:29
By Kgothatso Madisa
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa attends the ruling African National Congress party's National Executive Committee meeting after the judgement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague on emergency measures against Israel, following accusations by South Africa that the Israeli military operation in Gaza is a state-led genocide, in Johannesburg, South Africa, January 26, 2024. REUTERS/Alet Pretorius
Image: ALET PRETORIUS South African President Cyril Ramaphosa attends the ruling African National Congress party's National Executive Committee meeting after the judgement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague on emergency measures against Israel, following accusations by South Africa that the Israeli military operation in Gaza is a state-led genocide, in Johannesburg, South Africa, January 26, 2024. REUTERS/Alet Pretorius

The International Court of Justice's (ICJ) ruling that Israel must take immediate steps to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza will hopefully lead to an end in the war in the region, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday.

He was addressing the nation after the ruling delivered by the ICJ in The Hague in the Netherlands. 

South Africa has taken Israel to the ICJ seeking an order to halt the bombardment and killing of Palestine people in the Gaza Strip which it says amounts to genocide.

The country sought interim orders against Israel while the ICJ hears the full case.

Some of the interim orders sought included that Israel must immediately suspend its military operations in Gaza.

The ICJ granted several interim orders against Israel including that it must “take all measures within its power” to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza and “prevent inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the destruction   of Palestinians in Gaza as a group”.

The court ordered: “The state of Israel shall ensure, with immediate effect, that its military does not commit acts described in point one above.”

Reacting to the order, Ramaphosa said he hoped this will eventually bring an end to the war.

“It is our earnest hope and wish that this court order paves the way for an end to this crisis, for an end to the terrible loss of life and hardship, and for the crucial first steps to be taken towards reconciliation and a just, lasting peace,” he said.

Ramaphosa said there were those who had criticised South Africa’s stance against Israel saying the country was involving itself in matters it had no business being involved in.

“This marks an important first step in our quest to secure justice for the people of Gaza.

“Some have told us to mind our own business. Others have said it was not our place. And yet it is very much our place, as people who know too well the pain of dispossession, discrimination, state-sponsored violence,” he said.

“We are also a people who were the victims of the crime of apartheid. We know what apartheid looks like. We experienced and lived through it. Sadly, many of our people died and were exiled like our beloved leader Oliver Tambo and others. Others were jailed like the father of our democracy and others were maimed.”

Ramaphosa watched the delivery of the ruling at the Birchwood Hotel on the East Rand with members of the ANC's national executive committee (NEC), the party's highest decision-making body between national conferences. 

He sat expressionless as the ruling was delivered, occasionally taking notes while other NEC members rejoiced audibly with every blow that was dealt to Israel.

The NEC members sang struggle songs and danced in joy after the ruling, hoisting the Palestinian flag.

Ramaphosa said South Africa, as a victim of oppression, could not sit by and watch as the people of Palestine were being oppressed.

“We, as South Africans, will not be passive bystanders and watch the crimes that were visited upon us being perpetrated elsewhere. We stand on the side of freedom for all. We stand on the side of justice,” he said.

Ramaphosa said as the late statesman Nelson Mandela had said there should be justice and peace for all and South Africa would and should never experience such oppression again, so should not the Palestinian people

“And so, we say again today, never, never and never again shall it be that acts of genocide are perpetrated with impunity as we, the international community look on. We firmly believe that following this judgment there should now be a more concerted effort towards a ceasefire and negotiations should commence on a permanent two-state solution, to enable Israel and Palestine to live side by side as independent states,” he said.

TimesLIVE