Israel is violating international law by committing war crimes and genocide in the Gaza Strip, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday.
"The actions by Israel are in clear violation of international law, including the UN Charter and the Geneva Convention read together with its protocols," Ramaphosa told a special session of the BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — to discuss the situation in the besieged Palestinian enclave.
In his opening remarks as chair of the virtual meeting, Ramaphosa said the collective punishment of Palestinian civilians through Israel's unlawful use of force constitutes a war crime.
"The deliberate denial of medicine, fuel, food and water to the residents of Gaza is tantamount to genocide," the South African leader told the event, attended by the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Ethiopia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates, whose full BRICS membership starts next year, have also been invited to the meeting.
Ramaphosa said the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel, as reflected in UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which states that illegal Israeli settlements constitute "a flagrant violation under international law."
The South African leader also said his country wants an immediate and comprehensive cease-fire in Gaza, as well as opening of humanitarian corridors.
Ramaphosa further said that the International Criminal Court should urgently start prosecution procedures against those responsible for the perpetration of war crimes.
Israel has launched relentless air and ground attacks in the Gaza Strip following a cross-border attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on Oct. 7.
Authorities in Gaza said Monday that the death toll from the ongoing Israeli attacks on the enclave since Oct. 7 has jumped to over 13,300 including 5,600 children, 3,550 women, and 201 medical staff.
The Israeli death toll, meanwhile, is around 1,200, according to official figures.