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Ramaphosa reiterates call for ICC to probe war crimes, calls for UN rapid deployment force

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for the immediate ceasefire in the Middle East. Picture: Siyabulela Duda / GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for the immediate ceasefire in the Middle East. Picture: Siyabulela Duda / GCIS

Published Nov 21, 2023

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has reiterated South Africa’s call for the International Criminal Court to urgently prosecute those responsible for war crimes in Gaza.

Ramaphosa, who was addressing the emergency BRICS summit on the conflict in Palestine on Tuesday, said they also want the UN-led rapid deployment force to be sent to the region.

However, there must be cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

Ramaphosa called the emergency summit because of the worsening situation in the Middle East.

BRICS leaders: President Xi Jinping of China, Russian leader Vladimir Putin, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India attended the summit.

New BRICS members, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Argentina, and Iran, also joined the virtual meeting.

South Africa last week submitted a joint referral with Bangladesh, Bolivia, Djibouti, and the Comoros to the ICC to prosecute those involved in war crimes in Gaza.

Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni called for the ICC to immediately charge Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his senior officials over the war in Gaza.

Ramaphosa said they were concerned about the spiralling conflict that has left thousands of people dead.

He said the only solution to the conflict was peaceful negotiations.

“As South Africa, we call for: first, an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire. Second, the opening of humanitarian corridors so that aid and other basic services reach all those in need. Third, all countries to exercise restraint and to desist from fuelling this conflict, including by ceasing the supply of weapons to the parties. Fourth, the release of all civilian hostages.

“Fifth, the resumption of a comprehensive dialogue led and owned by Palestinians and Israelis themselves and facilitated by the United Nations. Sixth, the deployment of a UN Rapid Deployment Force in Palestine, with a mandate to monitor the cessation of hostilities and protect civilians. Lastly, the International Criminal Court to urgently initiate prosecutions against those responsible for the perpetration of war crimes,” said Ramaphosa.

He said BRICS is an important voice for the Global South and will be able to play a role in finding peace in the ongoing conflict.

Human rights organisations have warned of the dire situation in Gaza.

Ramaphosa said Israel must open humanitarian corridors to allow the international community and aid agencies to provide the necessary basic needs to the people.

The BRICS summit comes after two other summits in the last few weeks.

The president of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, convened a summit in Cairo, where he invited leaders from the Middle East, Europe, and other parts of the world. Ramaphosa was invited to the summit. The summit called for peace in the region.

African leaders joined Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh for the Saudi Arabia-Africa summit last week. They all called for an end to the conflict.

Ramaphosa told the BRICS summit on Tuesday that the bloc can play a role in finding peace in the conflict in the Middle East.

“As an important voice of the Global South, representing a large part of humanity, we believe that BRICS has a vital role in a widespread international effort to achieve a just and lasting peace.

“As individual countries, we have demonstrated our grave concern at the death and destruction in Gaza. Let this meeting stand as a clarion call for us to combine our efforts and strengthen our actions to end this historical injustice,” said Ramaphosa.

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