After South Africa filed a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for genocide in Gaza, nearly 50 South African lawyers are preparing a separate lawsuit against the United States and United Kingdom governments on the grounds that they are complicit in Israeli forces’ war crimes in Palestine.
The initiative, led by South African lawyer Wikus Van Rensburg, aims to prosecute those who are complicit in the crime in civilian courts in collaboration with lawyers from the US and UK, with whom he is already in contact.
Van Rensburg, who has been writing letters to various countries and the ICJ for the last few weeks demanding that Israel and its supporters be prosecuted, has begun preparations to file a lawsuit against the two Western countries, with the support of his colleagues.
“The United States must now be held accountable for the crimes it committed,” Rensburg told Turkish news publication Anadolu Agency in an interview, detailing the process by which the US and UK and London will be tried as complicit in Tel Aviv’s war crimes against the people of Gaza.
When he told the people around him about filing a lawsuit, Van Rensburg said he received a lot of support.
“Many lawyers decided to join us in the lawsuit. Many of those who have joined are Muslims, but I am not. They feel obligated to assist this cause, but I believe that what is happening is incorrect,” he said.
“What happened in Iraq is an example of this,” he said, noting that no one held the US accountable for the crimes it committed in the Middle Eastern country as the issue was not given the necessary importance.
But now people believe what is happening in Palestine is an ideal scenario for the legal process to be carried out, the South African lawyer said, adding that “the US is busy spending more money and more resources to (allow Israel) commit the crime”.
Van Rensburg said the genocide case filed by South Africa against Israel at the ICJ will serve as a guide for their case against the US and UK, and that they will begin the process based on the outcome of the case and the steps to be taken by the United Nations.
If the ICJ trial against Israel is concluded in favour of South Africa, Van Rensburg believes that the US may face sanctions even if it does not accept the verdict. The ICJ ruling will also strengthen a case against the Joe Biden administration, he added.
Van Rensburg said he and his colleagues in South Africa are making preparations by contacting law firms in the US and UK.
Highlighting the fact that Germany is still paying compensation for the crime of genocide committed during World War II, he said: “The US must now be held responsible for the crimes it has committed. It must accept its responsibilities.”
Pointing out that similar cases were filed against former US President George Bush in the 2000s, he said they believed that they could successfully carry out the legal process abroad by working as a team.
Last week, the group of lawyers, which has now grown to 47, wrote an open letter to the leaders of the US and UK governments, stating that they could not avoid responsibility.