Israel-Palestine War

What South Africa Got Right About the Israel-Hamas Conflict at the ICJ

Umar Gyasi Agyemang, Ghana

As innocent lives are being lost in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, there is evidence of the failure of world leaders to protect the lives of the innocent in Palestine. An African country took a bold step in fighting for the people of Palestine in an attempt to protect and preserve innocent lives.

The recent ongoing conflict has brought about the killing of more than 22,000 people in Gaza and majority of them being women and children. According to the Government media office over 70% of Gaza homes are destroyed and over 50,000 people have been injured so far. Health care, water, food and other basic needs have now turned into things that are far from reach. 

With these unfortunate happenings, parliaments across the world have had debates calling for a complete ceasefire, and there have been pro-Palestine protests all over. The world has paid no heed to these calls and the killings continue. The silence of the world on the loss of innocent lives in Palestine led to South Africa taking matters into its own hands and setting an example for world leaders on the way forward in dealing with this decades-old conflict between Israel and Hamas.

South Africa in the past months has taken drastic measures to protest against the ongoing mass murder in Palestine, and has filed a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) calling the action of Israel ‘Genocide’. According to reports the case was filed against Israel on the 29th of December 2023 and the hearing began at the ICJ on the 11th of January 2024. As Thursday’s hearing got underway, a South African official quoted Nelson Mandela, the country’s anti-apartheid icon and founding president. ‘We are part of a humanity that is at one,’ said Ronald Lamola, South Africa’s justice minister. ‘This is the spirit in which we approach this court,’ he said. ‘This is our commitment to the people of Palestine and Israelis alike.’

While many see the ongoing example as one of a kind and show complete support, some countries have completely rubbished the course. The Biden Administration describes the step taken by South Africa as ‘meritless’. Netanyahu released a video on the eve of the court hearing in which he stated that ‘Israel has no intention of permanently occupying Gaza’ and that it was ‘fighting Hamas terrorists, not the Palestinian population.’ There are other countries as well that see no benefit in the undertaking of South Africa. 

Amidst all this chaos, the question that people keep asking is where are the Muslim nations? The Fifth Caliph and Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) has described the current state of the Muslims,

‘Now, the situation is such that someone told me that people who going to perform Umrah [Pilgrimage] are being told that once there they cannot mention anything regarding the conflict of Israel and Palestine. These are the instructions given by the government when issuing visas. If this is indeed true, then it is an expression of great cowardice on the part of the Muslim government. In any case, one should fulfil the due rights of performing Umrah. Whilst performing the Umrah, one cannot engage in such talks, however, one should certainly pray for Palestinians who are being oppressed. May all those who are travelling [for Umrah] remember to pray for them.

Nowadays, the Muslim nations do raise a voice, but it is a very feeble one. Though some have raised their voices, however stronger voices have been raised by non-Muslims and their politicians and governments. May Allah the Almighty develop courage and wisdom amongst the Muslims.’[1]

His Holiness (aba) presented the solution offered by the Second Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), in the following words,

‘Approximately 72 or 73 years ago Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra), admonished that Muslims must become united. They should decide whether they wish to die off one by one and individually (if they fail to unite), or whether they want to maintain their existence as a single entity. If only these people would understand this today and become united.’

Africa takes pride in the unwavering bravery of South Africa to champion a good cause, distinguish itself, and not act hypocritically. Setting a perfect example for the entire world, and what some may refer to as the new dawning and Africa could achieve more if it realises its potential. Speaking about the potential of Africa, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) said,

‘Africa, with the Grace of Allah, has the ability to lead and guide the world. But you need to work hard and stay united to realise this potential, so that instead of succumbing to enslavement, you are those who stand at the forefront of the world. Always remember that to celebrate the anniversary of your independence or to commemorate jubilees will only prove of benefit if you march forward with the right attitude and spirit…Allah has granted almost all of the African nations natural resources and He has given its people bright and fertile minds.’

With an African country being the torchbearer in the fight for justice in the ongoing conflict, will their voices be heard? And will other countries be bold enough to follow suit, so that we give voice to the voiceless and protect the lives of innocent people? 

The right answers will see to the drastic turn of events for the better. 

About the Author: Umar Gyasi Agyemang graduated from Jamia Ahmadiyya International in Ghana. He currently serves as an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Ghana and is the National Coordinator for The Review of Religions in Ghana.


[1] Friday Sermon, 17 November 2023