While the Gaza Docket has been in rotation for nearly five years now, Muslim Lawyers Association (MLA) advocate Yousha Tayoub says there is still a long way to go before the South Africans identified as having aided Israel during Operation Cast Lead can be brought before the country’s justice system.
The Gaza Docket is a legal case brought before the South African Judiciary in which, based on research done by the Media Review Network (MRN) and the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA), South Africans who assisted the Israeli military in its operation were accused of taking part in war crimes.
73 South Africans were identified at the time as having participated in Israeli military operations. But Tayoub says although they may succeed in presenting the evidence in court, the difficulty will be in proving these individuals assisted in Operation Cast Lead.
“We identified these South Africans who served in the IDF from time to time; the difficulty is in establishing whether they were a part of Cast Lead or not. What must also be understood is that in 2009 our Foreign Military Assistance Act was not as drastic as it is now. At that time you had to physically prove that a person served in a foreign military; now, however if you are found to even sew a button [from a different army] on a coat you can be found guilty. The individuals we identified, were done so by their own social media sites, in Israeli uniform with South African flags attached,” Tayoub explained.
He says another hindrance is the co-operation of foreign governments aiding the investigation. He says often these individuals hold dual citizenships. They then fly out to a different country and board a plane to Israel from their second homeland or using a foreign passport.
“This then comes untraceable, without the co-operation of another country. And it becomes very difficult for the investigation because a request was made to the Israeli embassy for this information, this was then declined.”
“Back then the consequence of being found guilty of assisting a foreign military was a large fine. But the main issue for us […] was that you have these individuals who fought conscription in our own country but are willing to fight for the Israeli army promoting Zionism and Israeli statehood,” Tayoub said.
Although it may be a novel case within the bounds of South Africa’s legal system, Tayoub says there is a precedent for such cases across the world. South Africa is a signatory to the Rome Statute, an international legally binding documented that creates no borders on the prosecution of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.
“The Rome Statute localises the global legal system. If a country is a signatory to it, then they can be prosecuted under it. Notably, Israel and the United States are not signatories,” which Tayoub says may prove difficult in prosecuting members of the IDF.
But now, with recent bombings over Gaza by the Israeli military, Tayoub says his group and their partners will now gather more evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity from the most recent conflict. VOC (Andriques Che Petersen)