OIC welcomes South Africa’s move to take Israel to ICJ over Gaza war

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has welcomed South Africa’s decision to file a lawsuit against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), after nearly three months of relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

The OIC in a statement on Saturday called on the ICJ to respond swiftly and take urgent measures to put an end to the genocide committed by Israel in the besieged Palestinian territory, the Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.

“The OIC stressed that Israel, the occupying power, is committing genocide by its indiscriminate targeting of [the] civilian population, killing and injuring tens of thousands of Palestinians, forcibly displacing them, preventing them from obtaining basic needs and humanitarian aid and destroying buildings, and health, educational and religious institutions,” the statement read.

South Africa filed a lawsuit on Friday that says Israel’s actions are “genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group.”

The application said Israeli attacks breach the UN’s Genocide Convention, urging the ICJ to “order Israel to cease killing and causing serious mental and bodily harm to Palestinian people in Gaza.”

It further added that “Israel has engaged in, is engaging in and risks further engaging in genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza”.

“We want to see an end to the conflict through peaceful means,” Lindiwe Zulu, South Africa’s minister of social development, told Al Jazeera about why Pretoria has filed the lawsuit.

“We believe that this is the right time – for us both as the African National Congress and our government – to step up to the next level in finding a solution,” she added.

Moreover, the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement praised South Africa’s action and described it as “a significant step to punish the leaders of the Zionist entity and present-day criminals, who have committed the most heinous murders in modern history”.

Hamas called upon the entire world to adopt a similar measure against the Israeli regime both at national and international courts of law.

“The regime threatens international peace and security, and must not be allowed to escape punishment for the brutal crimes it has perpetrated against children and defenseless civilians in Gaza,” it added.

South Africa has been one of the outspoken critics of Israeli’s ongoing onslaught against Palestinians and has led some initiatives to hold Israel accountable for its actions in Gaza.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has compared Israel’s policies in Gaza and the occupied West Bank with his country’s past apartheid system, which saw the minority white population rule the majority black nation using a system based on segregation as its base. The white-minority rule ended in 1994.

The country’s lawmakers last month voted in favor of closing down the Israeli embassy in Pretoria and suspending all diplomatic relations until the onslaught stops.

Since the start of the aggression, Israel has killed more than 21,600 Palestinians, mostly women and children. It has also imposed a complete siege on the territory, cutting off fuel, electricity, food and water to the more than two million Palestinians living there.

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