‘Cannot Be Justified’ – South Africa Says Forced Displacement of Rafah Residents Unlawful 


South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor. (Photo: video grab)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

South Africa said the international community cannot ignore the grave violations of international law by the State of Israel.

The South African government has said it is “deeply disturbed” about the unfolding developments in Gaza and is “horrified” by the Israeli military’s announcement that it would operate in Rafah with “extreme force.”

“This intended action amounts to forced displacement of Palestinians in Gaza that is unlawful under international law and cannot be justified by any military imperative,” the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said in a statement on Monday.

The imminent military offensive in Rafah, the statement added, “will erase the last refuge for surviving people in Gaza.”

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Roughly 1.5 million displaced Palestinians are sheltering in Rafah, with many having been displaced from other areas destroyed by Israel in its ongoing military assault on the besieged enclave.

“Rafah has become a temporary shelter for Palestinians who have been forced to relocate there, with already limited access to food, medical care and other services after months of bombardment by Israel of their homes in the rest of the Gaza Strip,” DIRCO stressed.

ICJ Order

On January 26, 2024, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered an order on South Africa’s request for provisional measures determining that Israel’s actions in Gaza are plausibly genocidal.

These provisional measures are directly binding on Israel, which is required pursuant to the Court’s order and to the Genocide Convention itself, to stop all acts by it that are plausibly genocidal, the statement emphasized.

In response to the deteriorating situation in Gaza including in Rafah specifically, the ICJ issued additional provisional measures on 28 March 2024, “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,” DIRCO stressed.

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Unfortunately, the statement added, since the Court’s orders on provisional measures, “we have seen the Israeli Government continue its illegal actions in violation of the Court order and international humanitarian law.”

“The continued illegal military action in Gaza and the announcement of its action in Rafah are indications that the Israeli Government is not only ignoring the Court’s order, but that it also intends to increase its genocidal actions in Gaza.”

‘Collective Responsibility’

South Africa said the international community “cannot ignore the grave violations of international law and the UN Charter by the State of Israel.”

“Inaction in the face of these violations and public threats of more violations amounts to ignoring our collective responsibility to protect innocent civilians, including children,” the statement warned.

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The Israeli army issued evacuation orders early on Monday for Palestinians in the eastern neighborhoods of Rafah and called on them to move to the town of Al-Mawasi in southern Gaza. Approximately 100,000 Palestinians residing in the eastern neighborhoods of Rafah are affected by this evacuation process.

Right to Self-Determination

Earlier South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Palestinians’ right to self-determination is something very close to their hearts and they can never turn back their support, the Anadolu news agency reported.

Addressing an event in the Western Cape province over the weekend, Ramaphosa said the country’s first democratically elected President Nelson Mandela taught them to support the Palestinian cause for freedom and they will continue to do so.

“We will fly the flag of the Palestinians high and that is South Africa’s stand and South African people particularly, the African National Congress party,’’ he said.

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Ramaphosa added: “We are never going to turn back from supporting the cause of the Palestinians be sure about that.”

He also reportedly said his country supports the Freedom Flotilla which will carry humanitarian aid to Gaza, as it continues its preparations.

(PC, Anadolu)

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