Apartheid Israel condemned for defying international law – NUMSA

Union says it has always been their view that Israel is determined to wipe out the Palestinian people

NUMSA welcomes ruling of the International Court of Justice but condemns Apartheid Israel for defying international law by continuing to murder Palestinians

29 January 2024

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) welcomes the decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which found that Apartheid Israel’s so called ‘war in Gaza’, is plausibly genocidal. This is landmark judgement and is a victory for the oppressed people of Palestine. The ICJ has also issued several orders which are binding on Israel, and compel it to take urgent steps to prevent further suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

NUMSA recognizes the grave historical injustice that Palestinians have suffered. This crisis did not begin with the attack by Hamas on the 7th of October. It was triggered by more than 70 years of unlawful occupation by Apartheid Israel, and the persistent dehumanization and oppression of Palestinian people.

The ICJ has issued the following orders:

1.     Israel must take all possible measures to prevent acts as outlined in Article 2 of the 1948 Genocide Convention. It may not kill members of a certain group, (Palestinians), it may not cause physical or psychological harm to Palestinians and it may not inflict living conditions which are calculated to bring about the end of the existence of a people. Furthermore, Israel may not carry out actions designed to prevent births within that group of people.

2.     Israel must ensure that its military does not carry out or commit any of the actions stipulated above.

3.     Israel must prevent and punish the “direct and public incitement to commit genocide in relation to members of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip”.

4.     Israel must ensure the delivery of basic services and essential humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza.

5.     Israel must prevent the destruction of evidence of war crimes in Gaza and allow fact-finding missions access to these areas.

6.     Israel must submit a report on all the steps it has taken to abide by the measures imposed by the court within one month of the judgement. South Africa will have the chance to respond to this report.

Whilst we welcome the judgement, it is unfortunate that the ICJ did not impose an immediate ceasefire, thus resulting in Palestinians being at the mercy of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister. Since the judgement, Apartheid Israel has not stopped murdering civilians, and its actions must be condemned in the strongest terms. According to Euro-Med Monitor since the decision of the ICJ, Israel has not only continued to kill Palestinians, but it has also “ramped up efforts to starve them as well as to forcibly displace them from their homes on the Gaza Strip”. At least 373 Palestinians were killed and at least 640 people have been wounded since the decision of the court. Israel is defying the worlds highest court and violating its own international obligations.

Netanyahu is a war criminal whose hands are dripping with blood. He is a vicious war monger and should be stopped. Both the ICJ judges and the leaders of the world at the United Nations Security Council, must urgently impose an immediate ceasefire, if the outcome of the ICJ are to be implemented and realised, in order to save the lives of Palestinians.

It has always been NUMSA’s view that Israel, is determined to wipe out the Palestinian people. They are implementing ethnic cleansing, in order to justify a total take-over of their land. This was confirmed at a press conference, on the 18th of January, when Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, rejected the notion of a Palestinian state as a post-war solution to the genocide in Gaza. He went further and stated that, in the future, Israel must control the entire area, “from the river to the sea”.

Israel’s Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, called for Palestinian residents of Gaza to leave the area so that they can make way for Israeli settlers, who could “make the desert bloom”. At the same time, a paper by an Israeli government ministry has proposed that Palestinians in Gaza be moved to Egypt’s Sinai desert. According to NBC news, the document calls for the mass displacement of Palestinians and for them to be housed in ‘tent cities’ in the Sinai desert.  

Israel has no respect for international law and drastic measures must be taken to compel it to act. For example, footage emerged recently from CNN, of Israeli soldiers shooting an unarmed 57 year old elderly Palestinian woman, who was walking with her 4 year old grandson. She was waving a white flag, and they shot her whilst she held her grandsons hand! ITV also showed footage of an unarmed Palestinian man, walking with a group of relatives, waving a white flag, who was murdered by the Israeli military. Waving a white flag is an international sign of surrender. It is a direct violation of international law to deliberately shoot an unarmed civilian waving a white flag. Israel has also murdered over 100 journalists in Gaza as part of its attempts to control the narrative and stop information of its human rights violations from being exposed to the world. Israel acts with impunity and they are able to act this way because of the unwavering support of the United States of America, and other Western allies.

NUMSA has noted that U.S. President Joe Biden does not have the support of the majority of the working class in America because of his decision to support Apartheid Israel. We are encouraged by the bravery of the working class in America which has been united and very vocal about denouncing the murderous campaign led by Apartheid Israel.

Examples of this are the actions of progressive unions like the ILWU Local 10 which has a long history of organising workers to reject Apartheid Israel. Since 1988 it has passed resolutions denouncing Israel, and it has repeatedly refused to off load goods from the Israeli owned ZIM Line ships whenever they dock. The UAW which represents over 350 000 auto workers in America, recently organised a protest calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. We have also noted that that progressive organisations like the Party for Socialism and Liberation and Code Pink have been participating in weekly protests and demonstrations in defence of Palestine. There is an organic groundswell of rejection from the American working class of neo-colonialism and imperialism of the U.S. government and this is very encouraging. As NUMSA, we salute these organisations for their militancy and for their persistent campaigns to amplify the voices of the Palestinian cause.

What is to be done?

The next step is to intensify campaigns to boycott and isolate Apartheid Israel to pressurize it to do the right thing. NUMSA continues to support the BDS and its campaign for economic sanctions to be imposed on Apartheid Israel. We must also ensure that it is isolated and is blocked from participating in international cultural and sporting events. During the dark days of Apartheid South Africa was sanctioned and vilified on the global stage, the same must happen to Apartheid Israel. It must be treated like a pariah state.     

The ultimate solution would be for the Apartheid state of Israel to be dismantled in order to clear the path for a free, unsegregated Palestine. Palestinians must be free to govern themselves democratically, without interference from outsiders. The path to a long lasting peace is that Palestinians govern themselves in a sovereign, independent state, where they are able to determine their own future, and exercise full human rights.

Issued by Irvin Jim, NUMSA General Secretary, 29 January 2024