South Africa warns nationals against serving in the IDF

Pretoria Foreign Ministry issues statement saying all of the country's citizens require special approval before enlisting in a foreign military, threatening legal charges
The South African Foreign Ministry issued a stern warning to its nationals living in Israel, cautioning them that enlisting in the IDF could expose them to legal consequences in South Africa for violating international law.
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"The South African Government is gravely concerned by reports that some South African citizens and permanent residents have joined or are considering joining the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in the war in Gaza and in the other Occupied Palestinian Territories.” The ministry said in a statement.
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נשיא דרום אפריקה סיריל רמפוזה
נשיא דרום אפריקה סיריל רמפוזה
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa
(Photo: AP)
“Such action can potentially contribute to the violation of international law and the commission of further international crimes, thus making them liable for prosecution in South Africa.”
The ministry also said that according to South African law, anyone interested in enlisting in the IDF must receive special approval. "Any person joining the IDF without the necessary permission of the NCACC is breaking the law and can be prosecuted.”
The law in South Africa, like in other countries, doesn’t allow its nationals to serve in foreign militaries. However, there have been cases of South African citizens serving in the British Army, the American military, the IDF, among others. The law has never been enforced, and no legal action has been taken against any citizen who served in the IDF or another foreign military so far.
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מפגן תמיכה בישראל בקייפטאון, דרום אפריקה
מפגן תמיכה בישראל בקייפטאון, דרום אפריקה
Pro-Israel demonstration in Cape Town
Israeli officials believe that the South African Foreign Ministry's statement is intended to show to the Palestinian factions, the local government’s willingness to prosecute Jewish citizens for serving in the IDF.
However, it’s still unclear whether any such action would be taken or if these statements are purely declarative. Nevertheless, This marks a severe and troubling development, considering the thousands of South African nationals living in Israel.
South Africa is a prominent supporter of the Palestinians in the international community, and consistently voices criticism of Israel. It draws parallels between the Palestinians' struggle and the African community's fight against apartheid a century ago.
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הפגנת תמיכה בישראל ביוהנסבורג דרום אפריקה
הפגנת תמיכה בישראל ביוהנסבורג דרום אפריקה
Pro-Israel demonstration in Johannesburg
In 2018, South Africa recalled its ambassador from Israel, and has not reinstated him since. In November South Africa withdrew all of its diplomats from Israel as a protest against the ground operation in Gaza and announced it was reviewing its diplomatic relations with Israel.
The crisis escalated when Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced it was calling Israel’s ambassador to South Africa Eliav Belotserkovsky, to Israel for consultations following the recent statements made by senior South African officials.
Among them was also South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza and even referred the matter to the International Criminal Court (ICC), urging an investigation into what he claimed were "war crimes and crimes against humanity" committed by Israel, asserting Gaza has become a "concentration camp."
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