International Lawyers Challenge the African Union to Revoke “Israel’s” Observer Status

A group of international lawyers and researchers have launched a legal complaint with the African Commission on Human and People’s rights, in order to have “Israel’s” observer status in the African Union (AU) revoked.

A group of international lawyers and researchers have launched a legal complaint with the African Commission on Human and People’s rights, in order to have “Israel’s” observer status in the African Union (AU) revoked. The complaint was filed on the grounds that the Israeli government is guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and apartheid.

The 200-page document petitioning the African Union, to revoke “Israel’s” observer status, was submitted by the Johannesburg-based Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) and Media Review Network (MRN). The complaint was put together in collaboration with International Lawyer Stanley Cohen, who resides in New York, along with fellow complainants from Africa, Belgium, Belfast, and Ireland.

Several African nations including South Africa, Namibia, Algeria, and many others have been vocal in their opposition to “Israel’s” entry as an observer state in the African Union, an organization which had held the Israelis out for roughly 20 years, until months ago. Last month the Southern African Development Community (SADC) also condemned the AU Commission’s decision to admit “Israel” with Observer Status.

On Thursday the document was sent, providing 133 pages of evidence against “Israel”, which utilized witness testimonies from victims of “Israel’s” latest military operation waged against the Gaza Strip. As a result of the 11-days of fighting in May, roughly 270 Palestinians were killed, most of them civilians according to Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem.

One such testimony was issued under oath by Mr. Hamed Al-Mansi, from Northern Gaza, who detailed an Israeli attack that took place on May 14, during which members of his family were killed. “At 12 midnight, the Israeli occupation planes directly attacked my brothers, Youssef, Ahmed, and Hatem Mahmoud Al-Mansi,” he stated, noting that “they were civilians” and had nothing to do with any armed resistance, however they were struck “without warning”. “They were targeted in the house’s yard, which resulted in the death of Youssef Hatem Al-Mansi (23 years of age)…he was killed immediately upon his arrival to the Indonesian Hospital”, he continued, stating that his other brother Ahmed (35 years old) was also killed “on the spot” and that his neighbor additionally died in the attack.

The document directly accuses “Israel” of war crimes, asserting: “The human rights violations committed by Israel are contrary to the spirit and purport of the Charter of the African Union, particularly relating to issues of self-determination and decolonization as Israel continues to illegally occupy Palestine in violation of its international obligations and multiple UN resolutions”, going on to say that “in conformity with Rule 119.4 of the Interim Rules of the African Union on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the complainants submit that the African Union should refer this Application to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”

As part of the submitted evidence against “Israel’s” crimes during May of this year, the document revealed that, according to the Palestinian Independent Commission for Prosecution of Israeli Occupation Crimes, Palestinians killed in the Israeli assault were being buried without forensic examination. The Forensic Medical Association in Gaza confirmed that due to the intense nature of “Israel’s” bombing campaign and restraints on services, they were unable to perform their duties in some instances. Four victims from the Amin family, residing in Beit Lahiya (North Gaza) were specifically cited as having missed out on any examinations of the kind.

Khaled Mohammed Ibrahim Amin issued a declaration under oath, also included in the document, giving an eye-witness testimony about the attack which killed the four members of his family, mentioned above.

Khaled said that on May 13, 2021, “at 11:30 pm, the Israeli occupation planes targeted our 4-story house with several direct missiles without any warning. About 23 people were present in the house, most of them women and children. This targeting led to the death of my father, Muhammad Ibrahim Amin, 52 years old, and the death of 3 of my siblings: Hadeel, 19, Warda, 22, and Walaa, 25. Walaa was married and pregnant, and she was present in our house as she was a resident of the Salateen area. The targeted house is a civilian house and has nothing to do with any military or resistance activity”.He continued, “I called upon the competent authorities to take measures to prosecute and hold the leaders of the Israeli occupation army accountable for the war crimes it has committed against us, as well as a demand compensation for material, moral and physical damages.”

Extensive documentation was provided on the targeting of innocent civilians, who were often targeted inside buildings at night and without prior warning that their building was to be struck. Ayah Mohammed Nasrallah Al-Rantissi is another such example of a victim who told her story under oath, having suffered third-degree burns, the loss of her right eye, and the murder of her 9-month-old son, along with other members of the family.

The Gaza Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Health, and the al-Rimal medical clinic in Gaza City were also documented as having been hit by Israeli airstrikes, leading to several injuries. Ziad Mohammed Mustafa Thabet, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education in Gaza, confirmed in the documents ‘Exhibit G’, that “institutions of higher education, private and public education, including governmental, private and civil institutions, licensed kindergartens, government school buildings, and school equipment” were all affected by “Israel’s” bombing campaign.

The petitioning of the African Commission on Human and Peoples rights will add to the mounting pressure on the African Union to rid “Israel” of its observer status, but even if unsuccessful, the document presented is a powerful indictment of “Israel” for its attacks on Gaza’s civilian population and infrastructure, earlier this year.

Robert Inlakesh: Political Analyst, Journalist, and Documentary Filmmaker