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South Africa refers Israel to ICC and calls for arrest warrant to be issued to Netanyahu

 South Africa has filed a referral to the International Criminal Court for an investigation into war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza.

“As South Africa we have accordingly, together with many other countries across the world, referred this whole Israeli government action to the International Criminal Court,”  South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday during a state visit to Qatar.

“We have put through a referral because we believe that war crimes are being committed there. And of course we do not condone the actions that were taken by Hamas earlier, but similarly we condemn the actions that are currently underway and believe that they warrant an investigation by the ICC,” he added.

The move comes as South African lawmakers were expected to debate a motion on Thursday calling for the closure of the Israeli Embassy in South Africa and the cutting of all diplomatic ties with the country until it agrees to a cease-fire.

Ramaphosa said his country believes Israel is committing war crimes and genocide in Gaza, where thousands of Palestinians have been killed and hospitals and public infrastructure have been destroyed.

The South African government has also called on the International Crime Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by mid-December.

South Africa, along with Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros and Djibouti, submitted a referral to the ICC to investigate whether war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Gaza.

South Africa's far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) opposition party on Thursday proposed a parliamentary motion for the Israeli embassy in South Africa to be closed and diplomatic relations to be suspended.

"In the name of our own constitutional values we must end these relations until the human rights of Palestinians are respected, promoted and protected," said the EFF party leader, Julius Malema.

"Israel must comply with international law and until then any relations with them must be regarded as an offense to our constitution."

South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) endorsed the motion that is expected to be put to a vote in parliament next week.

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