SA refers Israel to ICC for war crimes investigation

The International Criminal Court has received a referral from South Africa to investigate war crimes in Palestine. Picture:Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters

The International Criminal Court has received a referral from South Africa to investigate war crimes in Palestine. Picture:Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters

Published Nov 18, 2023


South Africa has referred Israel to the International Criminal Court after its ambassador in The Hague, Vusi Madonsela, personally handed over the referral to the court.

The ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan confirmed that his office received the referral from Madonsela.

Khan said he will commence with an investigation into the crimes committed in Gaza.

South Africa has joined Bolivia, Venezuela, Comoros, Djibouti and Bangladesh in referring the situation in Gaza for investigation by the ICC.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation said it wants the ICC to expedite its probe into Gaza.

“South Africa, along with like-minded State parties, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Venezuela, Comoros and Djibouti, as state parties to the Rome Statute, submitted a joint referral of the situation in Palestine to ensure that the ICC pays urgent attention to the grave situation in Palestine and thereby, lending their support to the Prosecutor’s investigation. Venezuela will petition the court in writing to join the submission.

“South Africa is further encouraging other State parties to the Rome Statute to join the referral, or to submit separate referrals independently.

“South Africa remains committed to ending impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and it is hoped that the situation in Palestine will be prioritised by the ICC in order to deliver justice to the victims of these grave crimes,” said the department of international relations.

Khan said State parties were allowed to make referrals to the ICC where crimes have been committed.

He said he was already working on investigations dating back years ago into crime committed in Palestine.

The referrals by South Africa, Venezuela, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Djibouti and Comoros will be added to the list of crimes currently under investigation by his office, said Khan.

“In receiving the referral, my office confirms that it is presently conducting an investigation into the situation in the State of Palestine. This investigation, commenced on March 3, 2021, encompasses conduct that may amount to Rome Statute crimes committed since June 13, 2014 in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

“It is ongoing and extends to the escalation of hostilities and violence since the attacks that took place on October 7, 2023. In accordance with the Rome Statute, my office has jurisdiction over crimes committed on the territory of a State Party and with respect to the nationals of State Parties,” said Khan.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced this week that they have referred Israel to the ICC to be investigated for war crimes.

Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor also called on the ICC to investigate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top officials for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Gaza.

More than 12,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel began its bombardment campaign more than a month ago.

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