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  • Writer's pictureArmstrong Williams

South Africa’s dangerous campaign against Israel

March 20, 2024 |

In December, South Africa filed a lawsuit in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, accusing Israel of committing genocide as a result of the scores of dead Palestinians that have resulted from Israel’s campaign against Hamas.

In January the court ruled that at least some acts that South Africa alleged fall under the 1948 Genocide Convention and ordered Israel to take measures to prevent acts that would be considered genocidal.  However, it did not order Israel to cease its military campaign in the Gaza Strip, and the case is still pending. Both Israel and Gaza hailed it as a victory.

Now, South Africa’s Foreign Minister, Naledi Pandor, has made a startling new announcement that citizens who return to the country who fought in the IDF will be arrested.

“I have already issued a statement alerting those who are South African and who are fighting alongside or in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). We are ready. When you come home, we’re going to arrest you,” she said, according to the Times of Israel.

This came after an earlier warning from South Africa’s foreign ministry that its citizens serving in the IDF, “can potentially contribute to the violation of international law and the commission of further international crimes, thus making them liable for prosecution in South Africa.”

Campaigns supporting the same type of action in France are underway, though the French government is being far more reasonable on the matter, with its foreign ministry spokesperson, Christophe Lemoine, saying that “dual citizenship implies dual loyalty” and that France will not investigate “what French-Israeli citizens do regarding their military obligations in Israel.” When asked if France would prosecute its citizens should they commit war crimes in Gaza, he called the question “somewhat forward-looking” because it assumed actions that have not happened. “If they do commit these crimes and it is proven, I will answer you when the time comes,” he said.

South Africa’s hard line is an extremely dangerous precedent. It is using its prosecutorial powers to punish dual citizens who serve in the army of a non-terrorist state. It is particularly troubling when you consider the fact that Israel heavily relies on foreign-born soldiers to serve in their already relatively small, but effective, army.

It would be one thing if a South African pledged their allegiance to ISIS, al-Qaida, Hezbollah or another organization that is internationally recognized as a terrorist outfit that regularly commits heinous acts against innocent people. But it is an entirely different thing to serve in the IDF.

Israel is not a terrorist outfit. They are a peaceful nation that has made great efforts to ensure that their campaign against Hamas does not affect innocent persons. Israel can hardly be blamed for killing innocent civilians in a hospital, for example, when Hamas intentionally stores their weapons there and when Hamas refuses to allow those innocent persons to leave when Israel warns them of an attack.

South Africa does not understand this, and I can perhaps guess the reason why: because South Africa, like most developed nations, has not, since its formation, been under constant threat of destruction by neighboring countries.

Now let’s be clear, it is an absolute tragedy that over 30,000 Palestinians have lost their lives, many of them children. It is a tragedy that over 70,000 people have been injured. But something South Africa needs to understand is that it’s not Israel putting Palestinians in harm’s way; it’s their own government, Hamas. That is the organization bent on committing genocide, which the United Nations defines as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.” Hamas is seeking to wipe out the Israeli people. Israel is understandably trying to eradicate Hamas.

South Africa must cease its dangerous public campaign against Israel, lest it allow a terrorist group at Israel’s borders to flourish and expand. South Africa is making itself an unwitting pawn in Hamas’ war against Israel, and it doesn’t seem like South Africa is willing to change course.

Armstrong Williams (; @arightside) is a political analyst, syndicated columnist and owner of the broadcasting company, Howard Stirk Holdings. He is also part owner of The Baltimore Sun. This column is part of a weekly series written from “The Owner’s Box.”


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