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Justice requires the prosecution of South Africans serving in the Israeli Army

March 17, 2022 at 11:33 am

A protest calling for the boycott of Israel in Johannesburg, South Africa on 31 May 2019 [Afro-Palestine Newswire Service]

With the global spotlight on Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine and dramatic pictures of civilians fleeing in droves to neighbouring countries, many across the world will be wondering how this tragedy will end, if at all. Palestinians who have been on the receiving end of a similar drama for more than seven decades, remind the world that unlike Ukraine’s population for whom Europe has opened its borders, they are confronted with a military siege blocking all access to safety.

Having lost their country to foreigner marauders and, since 1948, been subject to the dictates of a military regime self-styled as “Israel”, Palestinians have experienced the horrors of indiscriminate bombing as is being witnessed in Ukraine. They still do. Indeed pictures of the devastation caused by Israel’s war on a civilian population within Palestine, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, can easily be matched with those of Ukrainian cities.

Sadly, though, while atrocities committed by Israel against Palestinians have been relentless, the settler-colonial regime hasn’t met the same degree of outrage and dismay as Vladimir Putin’s in Russia has. The US and NATO have mobilised humanitarian aid, economic sanctions and sophisticated military hardware to help Ukraine. The same cannot be said for Palestine. In fact, the reverse is true. The same group of Western European nations plus the United States have rather continued to be Israel’s main backers. The blatant hypocrisy is breathtaking.

South Africa’s muted response to Russia’s military attack has been condemned. However, as we have seen with US/NATO political expediency, opposition to the ANC-led government’s stance on Russia has been a shocking display of double standards.

READ: From Africa to Palestine, United Against Apartheid

Political parties such as the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) are traditional allies of Israel and are known to be silent on the Zionist regime’s brutal suppression of Palestinian human rights. Their cowardice comes to the fore regularly whenever they oppose African National Congress (ANC) solidarity with Palestine.

As parliamentarians and serving on various committees, members of the DA and ACDP have yet to initiate any motion in defence of Palestinian rights. Yet the DA has already done so in support of Ukraine. This is a bizarre situation, and leads us to question its double standards.

I expect that a new challenge to the DA and the ACDP will emanate from a criminal complaint lodged with South Africa’s investigative and prosecution authorities by civil society organisations to investigate and charge suspects for violations of the Foreign Military Assistance Act (FMAA). Dubbed the “South African Zionist Terrorism Corridor Probe”, this is a comprehensive criminal docket based on sustainable and irrefutable evidence that South African citizens have either previously served or are currently serving in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

Military service in a foreign army, navy or air force by South African citizens is a criminal offence. The provisions of the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act 15 of 1998 are clear: by enlisting in the IDF, many SA citizens are in violation of this law.

The story does not end there. The suspects listed in the docket are also accused of contravening various other South African laws through their illegal military engagements in the IDF and by wilful and culpable acts of state terrorism. The IDF is known to be committing war crimes. The atrocities it has and continues to commit against civilians are documented extensively by UN agencies, particularly by the Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

If Ukraine’s plight has shocked the world into realising that invasion and occupation are wrong and untenable, have South Africans finally woken up to the reality of millions of Palestinians living under an illegal occupation imposed by a nuclear-armed, settler colonial regime accused of ethnic cleansing and the crime of apartheid? I hope so.

The “Zionist Terrorism Probe” is due to be unpacked at a press conference in a few days’ time. Among the applicants are Safoudien Bester, Martin Jansen, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and the Media Review Network. In addition to testing the claim of both the Democratic Alliance and the African Christian Democratic Party that they uphold law and order, it will also test the resolve of the authorities in Pretoria to enforce the law and prosecute the South African mercenaries who serve in the Israel Defence Forces. Justice requires nothing less.

READ: Africa states unite to pledge to isolate Israel, end its apartheid practices

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.