‘US will act if SA arrests dual Israeli citizens fighting in Gaza’

The US Congress says Department of International Relations and Corporation Minister Naledi Pandor’s threat that South Africa would arrest dual Israeli citizens serving in the Gaza “conflict” was antisemitic and threatened consequences if dual US citizens were to be similarly targeted.

In a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, dated April 12, the US congressmen demanded an explanation of what steps South Africa was taking to ensure that Jewish South Africans were protected against “growing antisemitism, specifically as senior government officials were increasing their hostile antisemitic statements”.

The congressmen said the threat to arrest citizens for serving Israel in their battle for self-determination against a terrorist organisation was alarming given that Hamas had openly declared its religious mission to kill Jews.

“But in a nation that has a history of corruption and false imprisonment, as was witnessed in the 1962 Rivonia Trial of Nelson Mandela, the level of concern for judicial malfeasance has increased,” reads the letter in part.

The congressmen said that while Pandor introduced the plan, “that may not be the case tomorrow as her personal opinions obfuscate the truth and justice”.

Naledi Pandor’s threat

“In the future, what will happen to US dual nationals who served in the Israeli Defence Forces who come on vacation to South Africa?

“Is your government prepared for the perpetrated false arrest of US citizens and the dire consequences that would follow?”

During a Palestinian solidarity event held on March 10 in Laudium, Pretoria, Pandor said: “I have already issued a statement alerting those who are South African and are fighting alongside or in the Israeli Defence Force: We are ready. When you come home, we are going to arrest you.”

South Africa is home to a Jewish population of more than 70 000.

The US congressmen said in the letter to Ramaphosa that “Israel, like every other nation, has a right to defend itself against terrorism”.

October 7 attacks

“When Hamas carried out its murderous and unprovoked attacks against civilians in Israel on October 7, 2023, this was nothing short of terrorism.

“The international law of armed conflict does not prohibit the citizens of any state from serving in the military of a nation to which the individual owes allegiance.”

The congressmen also decried that earlier this year, the South African government filed “unfounded charges in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) falsely alleging genocide in Gaza”.

They said that in a March 15 document from the lCJ titled Observations of the State of Israel on South Africa’s Request for the Indication of Provisional Measures and Modification of the Court’s Prior Provisional Measures Decision, they were critical of South Africa’s stance.

Consequences for US-SA relationship

The letter reads further: “Indeed, South Africa is engaged in an abusive exploitation of the court’s procedures.

“It ignores inconvenient facts and distorts others in an offensive and tendentious manner as request follows request with barely time to draw breath.

“And yet, your government extends beyond the unfounded ICJ case to now miscarry justice against your own citizens serving their second allegiance.”

The congressmen demanded to know what steps were in place to ensure that dual citizens were not falsely charged with genocide and war crimes in the same manner as the false accusations that were levelled in January.

“If you and your government arrest soldiers of our allies, it will have consequences for the US-South Africa relationship.”


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