South Africa appalled by mass graves in Gaza

South Africa appalled by mass graves in Gaza

Reports have emerged on the recent discovery of mass graves containing 202 Palestinian civilians at Nasser Hospital in Gaza. Reacting to disheartening reports, South Africa says it is appalled by the grim discovery.

The USA backed State of Israel seemingly has become law unto itself relentlessly committing war crimes unabated. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in South Africa has expressed concern over the recent discovery of civilian mass graves at Nasser Hospital on the backdrop of another mass grave at Al-Shifa Hospital.

According to Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson for the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights; a total of 283 bodies were discovered over the weekend at both Nasser and Al-Shifa Hospitals. She said some of the bodies found were allegedly of older people, women and injured. Some bodies were found stripped naked with their hands tied.

South Africa, a stickler for human rights, calls for an immediate and comprehensive investigation into what it terms ‘grim discovery’ to ensure justice and accountability. DIRCO has expressed concern regarding Israel’s attitude towards international law and its continued disregard to the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) ruling on 6 March 2024.

“Israel continues to disregard the rulings by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and UN Resolutions unabated amid the unrelenting bombardment of Gaza, particularly the ICJ’s ruling, which granted South Africa’s Urgent Request of 6 March 2024 for further provisional measures to prevent Israel from causing irreparable harm to the rights invoked by South Africa under the 1948 Genocide Convention in respect of the ongoing siege of Gaza,” said DIRCO.

DIRCO says the ICJ did not mince its words when it agreed with South Africa that the situation in Gaza has deteriorated significantly since the ICJ’s Court Order on 26 January 2024, hence the ruling in March.

“The lack of accountability by Israel is increasingly clear. South Africa concurs with the assertion made by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Ms Tlaleng Mofokeng, when she aptly stated that Israel’s war in Gaza has from the start been a “war on the right to health” and has “obliterated” the Palestinian territory’s health system.

We further concur with the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Ms Francesca Albanese, when she recently highlighted that the continuation of Israel’s impunity and exceptionalism is no longer viable, especially in light of the binding UN Security Council Resolution 2728, which called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza,” said the department.

“We note that the evidence of mass killings of civilians points to the perpetration of war crimes, crimes against humanity, including murder and extermination, and genocide as defined in Articles 6, 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as well as violations of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, as well as Customary International Humanitarian Law.

International Humanitarian Law prohibits attacks on civilians and non-combatants, underlining the need to protect human life during times of war,” continued DIRCO in its statement.

South Africa has since called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) as they have jurisdiction on the matter to investigate thoroughly and bring the responsible parties to book. It has also called on the international community to clamp together to ensure atrocities like the one in Gaza are prosecuted in terms of the Rome Statute and the Geneva Conventions.


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