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Cabinet blames Israel for Gaza hospital air strike and calls for ICC action against ‘Palestinian holocaust’

Cabinet blames Israel for Gaza hospital air strike and calls for ICC action against ‘Palestinian holocaust’
Illustrative image: Minister in the Presidency of South Africa Khumbudzo Ntshavheni. (Photos: Rawpixel, X (formerly known as Twiter)/ @Khu_Ntshavheni | EPA/YAHYA ARHAB | Kyra Wilkinson)

Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says bombing a hospital is a war crime and should be investigated by the International Criminal Court. The South African government was still ‘consulting’ and ‘engaging’ over its offer to mediate between warring parties in the Middle East conflict.

The Cabinet has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to probe the bombing of the Ahli Arab Baptist Hospital in Gaza that killed hundreds of people on Tuesday, 17 October. 

“Israel’s bombing of the Ahli Arab Baptist hospital… is in fact a war crime as hospitals are considered a safe haven under International Humanitarian Law,” Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said in a post-Cabinet briefing on Thursday.

“Cabinet calls on the International Criminal Court to investigate the bombing and the crime of genocide in this conflict and on the international community not to allow the perpetration of another holocaust under its watch. The Jewish holocaust is enough stain in the history of mankind, for the international community to fold its arms while the Israeli government perpetrates a Palestinian holocaust,” she continued.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Middle East Crisis News Hub

However, Ntshavheni said the government has not yet approached the ICC directly to investigate.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza on Wednesday, said that at least 471 people had been killed and 314 people injured in the explosion at Ahli Arab Hospital. Rescue operations were ongoing and Ministry officials warned that the death toll could increase.

Reuters reported the death toll from the hospital explosion was the highest of any single incident in Gaza during the current conflict, and sparked protests in the occupied West Bank and the wider region, including in Jordan and Turkey.

Source of strike undetermined

Palestinian officials blamed an Israeli air strike for the blast. Israel claimed the blast was caused by a failed rocket launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad armed group, which has denied blame. 

Gaza has been hit by a barrage of Israeli air attacks in the days following the Islamist militant group Hamas’ coordinated attack on southern Israel on Saturday, 7 October. It has been widely reported that at least 1,300 Israelis were killed in the attack by Hamas, while others were taken hostage. 

In response, Israel announced a “total blockade” of Gaza which included a ban on food and water, and the cutting of electricity. On Wednesday, Israel said it would allow food, water and medicine into southern Gaza from Egypt, as long as it could be sure none would be delivered to Hamas.

According to Al Jazeera on Thursday, 3,478 Palestinians have been killed and 12,065 wounded in the conflict. 

Cabinet calls out ICC, UN

“Since last week, thousands of Israelis and Palestinians have been killed, and far more injured. Many violations of international law have been committed, by all sides, and Cabinet calls for accountability and justice in response to all those crimes. 

“Cabinet condemned the cowardly attack by Hamas that killed and injured innocent people. Similarly, Cabinet condemned the heinous opportunism of the Israeli government to use Hamas’ cowardice to continue its genocide against the people of Palestine,” said Ntshavheni.

She said the “bombing by the Israeli government of the Ahli Arab Baptist Hospital in Gaza is the most blatant violation of International Humanitarian Law”. 

The Cabinet called on the ICC to immediately act against such a breach.

“The failure to act meaningfully by both the ICC and the United Nations will be a demonstration of the total collapse of a rules-based multilateral system,” said Ntshavheni.

She said that Cabinet did not need to wait for a briefing from anybody to believe that Israel was to blame for the bombing of Ahli Arab Baptist hospital, adding that Israel “cannot run away from the responsibility of bombing a site that is protected by International Human Rights laws”.

Additionally, the Cabinet called on the Israeli government to “stop the bombardment of civilian establishments such as hospitals, schools and homes and for the opening of humanitarian corridors to allow the passage of aid including food and medical supplies to the Gaza Strip.”

On Wednesday, the US vetoed a UN resolution that would have called for humanitarian pauses to deliver aid to people in Gaza. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: US vetoes UN Security Council resolution calling for humanitarian pause in Israel-Hamas warfare

The South African government in an earlier statement condemning the violence between Israel and Hamas and calling for a ceasefire, also offered to mediate in the conflict.

“South Africa stands ready to share its experience in mediation and conflict resolution as it has done on the continent and around the world,” it said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: How feasible is South Africa’s offer to mediate in the war between Israel and Hamas?

Ntshavheni said South Africa will engage with the Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres and countries in the Middle East, regarding what role it can play in terms of mediation. 

“We remain available and ready, and when that decision is taken — because we are consulting; we are engaging — we will inform South Africans of our role, if we are going to play any role,” she said. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Danny Meyersfeld says:

    “She said that Cabinet did not need to wait for a briefing from anybody to believe that Israel was to blame for the bombing of Ahli Arab Baptist hospital”

    Never let facts get in the way of a good opinion

    • Stephen Paul says:

      Israel is automatically to blame – no evidence please. And these are the khafiya wearing people who are talking about mediating. The absurdity is breathtaking. It’s a good thing the war will be over by the time they have finished consulting.

  • Koggel Mander says:

    What I cannot understand, is this: Only part of a rocket hit, and landed outside the hospital building, in the parking lot. How can hundreds (500?) die?

  • Jaco Du Plessis says:

    Please do not embarrass us with proposed mediation and conflict resolution in Gaza. Over 27, 000 people were murdered in SA between April 2022 to March 2023. Stay in office and sort out our domestic problems.

  • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

    Our government has proof that Israel bombed this hospital? Is our Minister taking Hamas’s word for it because they told her on the phone? Same government that is posturing as a peace-broker, while taking sides. They dare use the word “holocaust”.

  • Rob Wilson says:

    The audacity of it. But considering that we no longer have any expertise in military matters, how could we expect that an informed option would come out of cabinet? Television footage of the site from various news platforms clearly shows that not only was the hospital not hit directly, but that the damage is not commensurate with a rocket incoming from Israel. But why lets things like facts and Newtons Laws get in the way of political burping?

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    In a normal day in South Africa 74 people are murdered.

    26 936 people murdered in in 2023.
    – 90 times the number killed in the Palestinian hospital disaster.
    – more than 1/2 the number of deaths in the recent Turkish earthquake disaster.

    We are in fact privileged to sport 5 of the most dangerous cities in the world here in South Africa.

    So I truly laud the fact that our government gives up their valuable time to judge the quality of governments of other countries.

    And I have no doubt that the international arena takes their opinions extremely seriously.

    • Ben Harper says:

      Actually the reatio is much higher, estimates now that the truth has come out are that between 10 and 50 people died in the hamas rocket failure

  • Roel Goris says:

    Minister Ntshavheni’s wisdom in one breath :
    1. Israel’s bombing of the Ahli Arab Baptist hospital is in fact a war crime.
    2. Cabinet does not need to wait for a briefing from anybody to believe that Israel was to blame for the bombing of the hospital.
    3. Cabinet calls on the International Criminal Court to investigate the bombing.
    4. The international community cannot fold its arms while the Israeli government perpetrates a Palestinian holocaust.

    Some simple questions to the dear Minister :
    1. Why calling for an ICC investigation if you have already decided Israel was responsible?
    2. What if the requested ICC investigation confirmed the growing factual evidence (as opposed to opinions or emotions) that the cause of the hospital blast was indeed a malfunctioning Al Jihad rocket on its way to kill civilians in Israel?
    3. In the latter case, would you still call it a Palestinian holocaust? Or would it become an unfortunate accident?

    And to think that these people want to mediate in the conflict. The mind boggles!

  • revpauleloff says:

    This biased government must wake up! Get the real objective facts. It was a hospital parking lot bombed by a failed Hamas missile with only few hurt. Making fools of themselves once more!

    • Ben Harper says:

      Well, considering making fools of themselves is about the only thing the anc are good at (apart from stealing and murdering of course), is one really surprised?

  • Rod H MacLeod says:

    I’m just curious why they want the ICC to investigate when this government has repeatedly ignored ICC arrest warrants with impunity?

    • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

      Who was it that said “Politicians and diapers have one thing in common – they both need to be changed regularly, and for the same reason.”

  • Craig King says:

    Despite all of the indisputable evidence that it was a Palestinian rocket that misfired and fell on a car park outside the hospital. Also there is no evidence for there being hundreds killed in the incident. The ANC is of course sticking to its obligation to support fraternal terrorist organisations regardless of proof or evidence.

  • robby 77 says:

    If only there was an antidote for stupid, the ol minister would be given a script.

  • Wily Fox says:

    Our esteemed ANC government has an exemplary track record of abject stupidity, outstanding incompetence & serial corruption … It recommend that they step out into the international arena to showcase these remarkable attributes for the whole world to see … Yes, biased & anti-semitic & racist as they are, they would be excellent mediators of peace in this crisis …

  • Wily Fox says:

    Remarkable that the ANC government does not bemoan the fact that no hostages has yet been released by the terrorists … Did they forget about them??? Or are they maybe ignorant of the abduction of the hostages??? Are they maybe deliberately avoiding the topic??? Or do they simply not care???

  • Kirsten du Toit says:

    Even the President of the United States of America has stated categorically that the hospital strike was self inflicted. Yet our minister of whatever is better informed? Incendiary nonsense.

  • Wily Fox says:

    As an experienced forensic investigator, I have discerned a FACTUAL FRAMEWORK, based on available VERIFIED & UNDISPUTABLE INFORMATION, for the determination of the TRUE VERSION of the so-called “airstrike by Israel” …
    #1 : The explosion happened OUTSIDE the hospital building, in the adjacent parking lot …
    #2: There was no, or minimal, structural damage to the hospital building or any nearby buildings …
    #3. The crater left by the explosion was miniscule (approximately 1m in diameter) …
    #4. Very few of the vehicles had been moved / overturned by the blast, & damage to vehicles & structures are mostly due to fire …
    The above factual framework precludes the possibility of an airstrike with the weaponry at the disposal of the IDF … Other evidence should be evaluated, to find the cause of the explosion within the parameters of the above factual framework to establish the true nature, cause & origin of the explosion, … The true casualty toll should also be established, as it is highly inconsistent with the factual framework above …

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