South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on its case against Israel committing genocide in Gaza as a significant step towards justice.
The ICJ, the world’s top court, ruled on Friday Jan. 26 that the case South Africa brought forward against Israel was plausible and ordered Israel to take all measures to prevent genocide against Palestinians in Gaza but did not order an immediate ceasefire.
Speaking after the ruling in a televised address on Friday, Ramaphosa said that Israel’s crimes against Palestinians have been laid bare.
He said that the ruling that found there is a plausible case of genocide had vindicated South Africa, adding it was an “important first step in [South Africa’s] quest to secure justice for the people of Gaza”.
“Some have told us that we should mind our own business and not get involved in the affairs of other countries. Others have said it was not our place,” he said. “And yet it is very much our place, as people who know too well the pain of dispossession, discrimination, state-sponsored violence.”
“We, as South Africans, will not be passive bystanders and watch the crimes that were visited upon us being perpetrated elsewhere,” Ramaphosa said. “We stand on the side of freedom for all. We stand on the side of justice.”
He said the next steps would be to push for a ceasefire and a permanent two-state solution that would allow Israel and Palestine to live side by side as permanent states.
Speaking to reporters outside the world court, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations, Naledi Pandor, called on Israel to cease hostilities in Gaza to comply with the court’s orders.
“How do you provide aid and water without a ceasefire?” Pandor said. “If you read the order, by implication a ceasefire must happen.”
Ronald Lamola, South Africa’s Justice Minister called the case a victory for international law.
The ICJ has yet to rule if Israel is committing genocide, and a final judgment may take years.