South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa hailed the World Court ruling on Friday imposing emergency measures against Israel over the war in Gaza as a step towards justice and said he expected Israel to abide by it.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent its troops from committing genocide, punish acts of incitement and take steps to improve the humanitarian situation as it wages war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.
It stopped short of demanding a ceasefire and has not yet ruled on the core of the case brought by South Africa – whether genocide has occurred in Gaza. That ruling could take years.
“We, as South Africans, will not be passive bystanders and watch the crimes that were visited upon us being perpetrated elsewhere,” Ramaphosa said in an address to the nation, referring to abuses committed against Black South Africans under the apartheid system.
“We expect Israel as a self-proclaimed democracy and a state that respects the rule of law to abide by the measures.”
Israel has called South Africa’s allegations of genocide false and “grossly distorted”.
Bringing the case to the U.N.’s top court has been a major diplomatic victory for South Africa, which has long championed the cause of Palestinians, likening their plight to its own oppressed people under apartheid – a comparison Israel strongly rejects.
Wearing the keffiyeh headscarf that has become an emblem of solidarity with the Palestinian cause, Ramaphosa watched the ICJ proceedings with fellow members of the governing African National Congress (ANC) party at a gathering outside Johannesburg.
Party officials sang and danced after the ICJ’s verdict was read out.
At a separate gathering in Cape Town, party officials were similarly upbeat.
“We have basically taken the first step to end the violence… against the innocent Palestinian people. We are extremely elated and happy about the judgment today,” an ANC official in Cape Town, Justin de Allende, told Reuters.