The names of two South Africans alleged to be serving in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) have been handed over to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development for investigation. The Action Forum for Palestine, who formed part of a joint delegation with the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) met with deputy minister John Jeffery on Monday. The minister will raise the matter with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and answers are expected by next Tuesday.
“We could have submitted more names but we have two, where there is clear evidence [of involvement in the IDF]. We have handed over the evidence to the police and copies have been given to the minister for the NPA,” said Shaheed Mahomed from the Action Forum for Palestine.
The men have been identified as 19 year old Josh Rod and Dean Goodson. While their rank is not known, they are allegedly serving as soldiers in the IDF in the current operation in Gaza.
Israel launched an aggressive military operation on the Gaza Strip four weeks ago, which has killed over 1800 Palestinians, mostly civilians. The NC4P and the Action Forum believe that South Africans who have taken up arms in the Israeli military should be held accountable for the deaths of Palestinians.
The rendering of foreign military assistance is prohibited under the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act 15 of 1998. The act clearly states that “no person[ within South Africa] may offer to render any foreign military assistance to any state or organ of state, group of persons or other entity or person unless he or she has been granted authorization” by the South African state.
According to Mahomed, the NC4P had evidence that these South African citizens did not seek approval from the South African government.
“Whoever is in the IDF in this operation is contravening the law,” he said.
Mahomed said they were also exploring the possibility of lodging a case at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Israel is however not a member of the ICC and the court therefore has no jurisdiction to investigate. But Mahomed believes they may be able to find a legal loophole as South Africa is an ICC member and any South African citizens found to be complicit in war crimes should be prosecuted.
In November 2009, a group of Muslim attorneys representing two local Palestinian advocacy groups compiled a dossier of evidence of South Africans alleged to be complicit in Israel’s Operation Cast Lead. The three week conflict between December 2008 and January 2009 claimed the lives of 1,400 Palestinians.
Known as the Gaza Docket, the dossier identifies 75 South Africans believed to have served in the IDF at the time of the war. The Muslim Lawyers Association handed over the 3,500 page document to the NPA at the time, but the actual prosecution of these individuals has proven difficult.
Mahomed said they hoped this case would provide the South African Police Service with guidelines on the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act, as the police were ill informed.
The Department of Justice and NPA declined to comment. VOC (Tasneem Adams)