Defend Truth


Netanyahu and Hamas leaders face arrest in SA if ICC issues warrants — SA Presidency 

Netanyahu and Hamas leaders face arrest in SA if ICC issues warrants — SA Presidency 
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: Gallo Images/Die Burger/Jaco Marais)

If the International Criminal Court issues arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leaders of Hamas, South Africa — as an ICC member — will be obliged to arrest them if they enter the country. 

Pretoria said it would comply with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which would mean arresting the Hamas and Israeli leaders if warrants for their arrest were granted and they set foot in South Africa.

Read in Daily Maverick: Israel-Palestine War

“We have a legal obligation in terms of fulfilling elements of the Rome Statute and we will discharge that duty when required to do so,” Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya told Daily Maverick.

“We have affirmed our status as a signatory to the Rome Statute and we will continue to campaign for equal and consistent application of international law.”

Pretoria has been reprimanded in the past by the ICC and its own courts after ignoring an ICC request to arrest and surrender the then Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, when he visited South Africa for an African Union summit in 2015. Bashir was indicted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly carried out between 2003 and 2008 in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Vincent Magwenya

Vincent Magwenya, spokesperson to President Cyril Ramaphosa. 29 April 2024. (Photo: GCIS)

In 2023, Pretoria faced a repeat of the Bashir incident when Russia’s President Vladimir Putin — accused of war crimes in relation to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — was scheduled to come to South Africa for a BRICS Summit in Sandton. In the end, Pretoria diplomatically (albeit with some flip-flopping) left the decision to Moscow, and Putin agreed not to attend.

The ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, on Monday announced that he was seeking warrants of arrest for Hamas’ top brass, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for war crimes and crimes against humanity in relation to Hamas’ attack on Israel on 7 October and Israel’s retaliatory assault on the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas leaders for whom arrest warrants are sought are its chief in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar; the commander of its military wing, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri; and the organisation’s political bureau leader, Ismail Haniyeh.

The decision of whether to issue the arrest warrants now rests with the Pre-Trial Chamber 1 of the ICC.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ICC seeks arrest warrants for Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leaders – reactions

Pretoria welcomed the ICC prosecutor’s decision to seek arrest warrants for both Israeli and Hamas leaders.

“The law must be applied equally to all in order to uphold the international rule of law, ensure accountability for those that commit heinous crimes and protect the rights of victims. To this end, the Rome Statute is premised on holding those most responsible for atrocity crimes accountable for their conduct,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement.

The ICC in The Hague was founded by a multilateral treaty, the Rome Statute. There are 124 states parties to the Rome Statute. Israel is not one of them, but Palestine and South Africa are both signatories and have international obligations to the other state parties.

Notably, South Africa was the first African state to sign the Rome Statute on 17 July 1998 and ratified it on 27 November 2000.

However, Pretoria has for years toyed with the idea of pulling out of the ICC. In 2016, former president Jacob Zuma attempted to withdraw South Africa’s membership of the ICC, following the embarrassing Bashir debacle. However, the high court ruled that the attempt was procedurally unconstitutional and invalid.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Explainer — the ICC arrest warrants for Hamas and Israeli leaders, and how they could play out

Reactions from Western nations 

On Wednesday, Norway became the first country in Europe to vow to arrest Netanyahu and the Hamas officials should they set foot in the country.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide told Norwegian broadcaster TV2: “If he [Netanyahu] or one of the Hamas leaders who are also indicted should appear in Norway, then we are obliged by international law to do so. The same applies to all countries in Europe with the exception of Turkey.”


Norway, in a historic move together with Ireland and Spain, announced that it would recognise Palestinian statehood. Israel immediately denounced the decisions and recalled its ambassadors to the three European nations, the Associated Press reported.

The three nations join an increasing number of countries which have recognised a Palestinian state amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Gjermund Saether

Norwegian ambassador Gjermund Saether. (Photo: Siya Duda/GCIS)

Gjermund Saether, Norway’s ambassador to South Africa, noted that since the Oslo Accords in 1993, (which Norway helped negotiate), “We have obviously been very involved in supporting the Palestinian Authority to help build a Palestinian state. And the idea was always that it should be a two-state solution. And the whole world agreed on that.

“But now, we find that the time has come to also recognise Palestine, because the two-state solution is in danger,” Saether said.

“And it’s not only related to what’s happening in Gaza. It’s also very much related to what’s happening in the West Bank with Israeli annexations of territories, et cetera. So now there is a need for recognition of the Palestinian state that is stronger than before. We used to say that we want the recognition of the State of Palestine to be part of a broader peace agreement. But we cannot wait for a peace agreement.

“And of course, this cannot — in any way — be seen as a support to Hamas and what they are doing. We have been condemning Hamas very clearly from the very start when it attacked Israel on 7 October,” he told Daily Maverick. 

In terms of the ICC, Saether said Norway did not want to “take a position” on Khan’s decision but wanted to “protect the ICC”.

“Everybody should respect the mandate. If there is an arrest warrant issued for Prime Minister Netanyahu or for the Hamas leadership — it’s the same thing as the arrest warrant that has been issued for Vladimir Putin — they will be arrested upon arrival in Norway if they set foot there. So we are quite consistent.” DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Charl Van Til says:

    “ We have a legal obligation in terms of fulfilling elements of the Rome Statute and we will discharge that duty when required to do so”
    …..except when it’s our friends. We remember Al Bashir’s warrant being ignored. The ANC is just proving its bias here. It knows Sinwar is not going to visit, because the second his head pops out of his tunnel mossad is going to take him out. It probably knows there is no way Netanyahu is going to come spend his vacation in Kruger either so…. What a lot of hot, meaningless air.

  • drew barrimore says:

    No substance from the corrupt thieving ANC – just optics, illusion and lies. Voters, please shut them up and shut them out!

  • Ismail Fredericks says:

    ANC telling tall tales and being clownish thieves as usual

  • Vuyokazi Mbethe says:

    The hypocrisy is astounding.

  • Brian Cotter says:

    Phala Phala Sudanese Bashir money for Cyril as a thank you. Who in their right mind would ship grade Z buffaloes to war ridden Sudan.

  • James Baxter says:

    SA is not a paragon of human rights. They should leave such things to countries that still uphold the virtues of humanitarianism, such as Norway and Denmark. SA is no longer a leader in these matters, they have lost their halo long ago. Leave Hamas and Netanyahu alone, we have enough on our plate as a country that need your urgent attention, like me not becoming a millionaire, and toddlers in Eastern Cape affected by malnutrition, and youth and adult unemployment of epic proportions. Pick your fights very carefully man.

  • Willem S says:

    We really need to vote this 2faced guy out of power.

  • Malcolm McManus says:

    So South Africa was reprimanded for the Al Bashir incident. That’s the problem. If ICC member states ignore the rulings, there are no meaningful repercussions except afew words passed and nobody appears to notice, not that there are too many member states as can be seen from the map. Basically the warrants, if served do little to change anything which makes the ICC impotent. Transgressors are free to trot most of the globe unhindered. Our only reaction to the Al Bashir incident from the ANC was wanting to pull its membership from the ICC, which is why the are blatantly making a mockery of the ICC with the case against Israel. We have deeply flawed and biased foreign policy.

  • Lynda Tyrer says:

    What a joke I cannot see PM Netanyahu wanting to visit this crime ridden country for a holiday, once again more hot air maybe they should think nefore saying anything after all they ignored the ICC warrants before.

    • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

      No need to diss our beautiful country. South Africa is one of the most magnificent countries on earth (beach, bush, mountains, open spaces), with the nicest people in the world. Also home to the envy of the world’s diaspora Jewish community. That being said, one can’t see Netanyahu or Gallant feeling the urge to come here on vacation.

    • Vic Mash says:

      But his country is worse, rockets fly in anytime and its filled with racists Israelites

  • Sonja Bakker says:

    The SA government will enforce the warrant just as long as it is not for Putin, Bashir, Hamsa leaders etc. This government is an absolute joke. We are the laughing stock of the world at this stage and our government is to stupid to realise that.

  • Casey Ryder says:

    But Al Bashir, not so much…

  • Confucious Says says:

    Al Bashir and Putin first! The anc truly believes that the citizens of SA are deaf, dumb and blind! the same anc that said in 2022 that they were considering leaving the ICC because it was a “Western” court with “Western” agendas etc… The anc is confoundingly dim!

  • William Dryden says:

    Tal, about the ANC being two faced, i see that when they are on television and other media platforms where Israel is the topic, they can be seen, wearing the Palestinian shawl across their shoulders, then they take it off after the show.

    • Rama Chandra says:

      It is great that the ANC take a stand on this, and super disappointing that they failed on Bashir, Putin and others. I don’t get your comment on the Palestinian shawl. Are you complaining that they put it on, or that they take it off? Or is that a metaphor for how they are one thing in front of the shiny lights and cameras and another in reality.

      • Vic Mash says:

        This has nothing to do with Bashir, but racist Israel. Why there are pale people with blue eyes fighting for land in the middle east anyway?

        • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

          Vic has obviously never been to Israel, nor seen a unit of the IDF. Interesting how those calling people racists will immediately turn to skin and eye colours, bwahahahah.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Has Palestine been recognised as an independent country by the UN?

  • Brandon Platt says:

    This I have to see…… with Pandor around, she will probably give a state welcome to Hamas, pull the other one please

  • Robert de Vos says:

    Are the Hamas leaders getting arrested? By whom? Will the UAE hand them over? Egypt? Because it’s common knowledge that they frequent these countries. Maybe Iran? Somehow I doubt it.

    The ANC meanwhile has close connections with Russia and China, both of whom are either slaughtering their neighbours or planning to do so.

    Oh, wait! It’s election time! Along with free health, education, basic income grant, land, T-shirts and a MacDonald’s burger.

    Wotta laff!

    • John P says:

      Neither the UAE, Iran or Egypt are signatories to the Roman Statute of the ICC so they would not be obliged to arrest anyone affected by an ICC warrant. If you had read the article properly you would have seen this from the included map.

  • Dorothy Laura Lucas says:

    No mention is made of the fact that South Africa is one of four places in the world to host a Hamas representative office – the others being in Gaza, Iran and Qatar. How about starting by arresting the Hamas representatives in South Africa?

    • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

      Interesting. Has this (and the Hezbollah offices in Cape Town and Fordsburg) escaped the attention of Israeli Intelligence? Asking for a friend

    • John P says:

      There is no arrest warrant for them so on what grounds do you suggest they be arrested?

      • Pieter Onderwater says:

        Since Palestine has signed the treaty as well, should they not arrest these 3 leaders that are on the list?

        • John P says:

          Palestine as in the West Bank may have signed the treaty, Gaza has not. At this stage there is no unified Palestinian state.
          More interesting perhaps is those who have not signed foremost of whom are the USA, China, Russia and Israel

    • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

      Have the offices come to the attention of Mossad? Asking for a friend

  • A B says:

    The hypocrisy from the anc and black south africa. No wonder they are now viewed as a racist global joke.

  • Jeff Robinson says:

    Apartheid South Africa tried to impose a multi-state solution with ethnically based independent homelands and the world, rightly, would have none of it. What is different with Israel-Palestine? As was insisted for South Africa, the only acceptable solution is a single, secular state with equal rights for all. But there must be absolute certainty that there will be a complete and unequivocal separation of state and church/synagogue/mosque. We certainly don’t need yet another Islamic theocracy. If only followers of any of the Abrahamic faiths could finally just GET REAL and divest themselves of the bronze age delusions they somehow continue to embrace. There is no credible evidence for the existence of any god, especially a tyrannical, misogynistic, genocidal, infanticidal, megalomaniacal narcissist like Yahweh/Allah.

  • Pieter van de Venter says:

    I am convinced that should Putin, Sinwar and Bibi ever set foor in South Africa, the ANC will work out a plan to only arrest Bibi.

  • Troy Marshall says:

    Germany has confirmed that Netanyahu will be arrested if he enters that country.

  • Frank M says:

    Corruption is just that ‘corrupt” – the report that the ICJ Ruling states immediate cessation of hostilities is exactly that false and corrupt. The ruling in brief states not to harm the Palestinian residents – the ANC by definition is motivated by racial indifference and should focus on the 23000+ murders in South Africa which has increased by 6% per Quarter — Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC cartel, should be brought before the ICC for their crimes. Gaza’s population might be Palestinian, but they voted Hamas into power. Hamas government declared war on Israel, and Israel is targeting Hamas, not the Palestinian population that voted Hamas into power. Based on the rhetoric used by South Africa’s legal team at the ICJ and in public comments at the ICC – Naledi Pandor and Co. should face criminal sanction also for their role in receiving funding for the 2024 elections from Iran.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.