South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Israel’s alleged crimes against Palestinians in Gaza have been “laid bare” in the International Court of Justice’s ruling on Friday.
Ramaphosa also said his country, which lodged the genocide case against Israel at the top U.N. court, is happy that “the Palestinian people’s cries for justice have been heeded by an eminent organ of the United Nations.”
The court ruled in a preliminary order that Israel must do all it can to prevent deaths, destruction and any acts of genocide in its offensive in Gaza, but did not order a cease-fire by Israel, which South Africa had pushed for.
Ramaphosa, in a live television address in South Africa hours after the ruling, called for a ceasefire to enable negotiations for “Israel and Palestine to live side by side”.
He also explained why South Africa brought the case to the world court, comparing Israel’s actions in Gaza to South Africa’s own history of apartheid under the previous system of white minority rule that forced most Black South Africans to live in “homelands” and denied them the right of freedom of movement among many other oppressive policies.
Leading rights groups in Israel and abroad and Palestinians have accused Israel and its 56-year occupation of the West Bank of morphing into an apartheid system that they say gives Palestinians second-class status and is designed to maintain Jewish hegemony from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
“Some have told us that we should mind our own business and not get involved in the affairs of other countries,” Ramaphosa said. “Others have said it is not our place. And yet it is very much our place as a people who know too well the pain of dispossession, discrimination, state-sponsored violence.”
The death toll from the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip surpassed 26,000 on Friday as the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to limit deaths and damage but stopped short of asking a cease-fire in the Palestinian territory.
The Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza said that 26,083 people have been killed and more than 64,400 wounded since Oct. 7, the day militants from the territory launched a surprise attack in southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostages.