ALGIERS, April 24 (KUNA) -- South Africa on Wednesday called for launching immediate investigations into the discovery of mass graves at Gaza hospitals after the withdrawal of the attacking Israeli occupations forces. "South Africa is appalled by the recent grim discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of 202 Palestinian civilians at Nasser Hospital in Gaza. This follows the reported discovery of mass graves at Al-Shifa Hospital," reads a statement by the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).
"These grim findings call for immediate and comprehensive investigations to ensure justice and accountability." The DIRCO regretted that Israel continues to disregard the rulings by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and United Nations (UN) resolutions amid the unrelenting bombardment of Gaza.
South Africa approached the ICJ in March, which granted the country's urgent request for further provisional measures to prevent Israel from causing irreparable harm to the rights invoked by South Africa under the 1948 Genocide Convention in respect of the ongoing siege of Gaza.
"The court was unambiguous when it agreed with South Africa's assertion that the situation in Gaza had deteriorated significantly since the court's order of 26 January 2024 as a result of Israel's failure and responsibility to comply with the court's rulings," the statement read.
The department said it concurs with the UN's Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Tlaleng Mofokeng, who has aptly stated that Israel's war in Gaza has from the start been a "war on the right to health" and has "obliterated" the Palestinian territory's health system.
"The lack of accountability by Israel is increasingly clear," the department added.
DIRCO further agreed with the UN's Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Francesca Albanese.
Albanese recently highlighted that the continuation of Israel's impunity and exceptionalism is no longer viable, especially in light of the binding UN Security Council Resolution 2728, which called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
"In this respect, we call on the international community to act to bring the perpetrators to justice and ensure accountability for the victims and their families," Albanese said.
Meanwhile, the department said it noted that the evidence of mass killings of civilians points to the perpetration of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
These include murder and extermination, and genocide, as defined in Articles 6, 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as well as violations of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, as well as Customary International Humanitarian Law.
The South African department also cited International Humanitarian Law, which prohibits attacks on civilians and non-combatants, underlining the need to protect human life during times of war.
"The International Criminal Court (ICC) has jurisdiction over the situation in Palestine. We, therefore, call on the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC to urgently lead a thorough and impartial investigation into a matter that complies with international legal standards, to establish the facts and to bring those responsible to justice.
"It is the collective duty of the international community to ensure that atrocities of this nature are duly prosecuted in terms of the Rome Statute and the Geneva Conventions." mr.ibi