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South Africa Vows to Arrest Any of Its Citizens Fighting in Israel’s Defense

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In a bold move that underscores South Africa’s solidarity with Palestine, Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor announced that South African citizens engaging in combat alongside Israel’s armed forces in Gaza will face arrest upon their return home.

South Africa Vows to Arrest Any of Its Citizens Fighting in Israel's Defense

The announcement, made during a solidarity demonstration with Palestinians attended by members of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, amplifies tensions between the two nations following South Africa’s decision to bring charges of genocide against Israel to the highest court of the United Nations.

Pandor’s statement came as a warning to individuals participating in or supporting Israel’s military actions in Gaza. “I have already started to alert South Africans fighting alongside or in the Israeli Defense Forces: We are ready. When you return home, we will arrest you,” Pandor declared to resounding applause.

South Africa Vows to Arrest Any of Its Citizens Fighting in Israel's DefenseThe South African government has long been critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and Pandor’s recent remarks signal a significant escalation in their stance. In December, the Department of Foreign Affairs expressed concern over South African citizens or permanent residents joining the Israeli Defense Forces without proper authorization under South African arms control laws. Those with dual South African and Israeli citizenship could risk having their South African citizenship revoked.

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While the exact number of South African citizens involved in the conflict remains unclear, South Africa boasts a substantial Jewish population of approximately 70,000 people. The government’s support for the Palestinian cause resonates deeply with the ruling ANC party and many South Africans who draw parallels between Israel’s policies towards Palestinians and South Africa’s apartheid era.

Israel vehemently denies accusations of apartheid and genocide, dismissing South Africa’s claims before the International Court of Justice. In response to South Africa’s accusations, Israel accuses the nation of representing the Hamas militant group responsible for attacks on Israeli territory, thus initiating the conflict.

South AfricaAs the violence in Gaza escalates, Pandor urged supporters to take action, calling on participants of the solidarity demonstration to create posters reading “Stop the Genocide” and protest outside the embassies of what she referred to as Israel’s “five major supporters.”

The ongoing conflict in Gaza has claimed the lives of thousands of Palestinians and displaced hundreds of thousands more, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian crisis. Pandor’s resolute stance reflects South Africa’s unwavering commitment to supporting the Palestinian people and holding Israel accountable for its actions.

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