South Africa Threatens to Prosecute Israeli Dual-Nationals

What’s Happening

The South African government has began issuing threats to arrest and prosecute any South African/Israeli dual nationals who are serving within the IDF, stating that local laws permit them to prosecute anyone who either joins a foreign military without governmental permission, or participates in a war the government does not agree with.

“We are ready. When you come home, we are going to arrest you” -South African Foreign MInister Naledi Pandor

South Africa has been one of Israel’s most vocal critics of Israel’s conduct in the Israel-Gaza war, claiming that Israel’s military offensive into Gaza, and their actions undertaken during said offensive, amount to genocide.

South Africa has taken these claims to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), where it accuses Israel of carrying out genocide against Gaza’s Palestinians. Notably, within court proceedings, the ICJ declared the “plausibility” of genocide when determining the validity of South Africa’s case against Israel.

This, along with accusations of war crimes both by South Africa and a number of other nations/groups is being used to justify the potential charges against those South African dual nationals serving within the IDF. Service within the IDF is mandatory for Israeli citizens.

The Plausibility of Expansion

While South Africa is the only government which has vowed to actually carry out any prosecutions, movements exist within several other nations to bring about similar charges, notably within France and the UK, however the government has not given any signals that they will relent to the movements on these issues.

Still within South Africa, doubts have been raised as to if the government would actually be able to carry out any charges against those serving in the IDF, particularly since they are attempting to apply charges to anyone serving, regardless if they personally participated in any of the specific actions South Africa is calling genocidal.

If an individual is proven to have participated in something that amounts to a war crime, then there is a possibility for charges, however it would be very difficult to legally bring about a charge for simply serving.

If South Africa goes ahead with the attempt, it is unclear if any nations would seek to follow suit. Israel has a large number of dual nationals both within its society and its military, including a significant portion from the US. Most of these countries which Israel has high percentages of dual nationals from have shown no signs of following suit in such a measure, in particular the US who has extensively supported Israel’s war effort. There is the possibility of other countries who share similar views to South Africa, that the war is genocidal, following suit however such actions would have minimal effects upon the IDF’s operability.

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Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.