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Dausab: Israel’s brutal occupation evokes apartheid memories

2024-02-27  Paheja Siririka

Dausab: Israel’s brutal occupation evokes apartheid memories

Namibia, through Minister of Justice Yvonne Dausab and international lawyer Phoebe Okowa, presented oral statements on Friday at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands on the legal consequences arising from the policies and practices of Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.

Dausab said it is due to history that Namibia considers it a moral duty and sacred responsibility to appear before the court on the question of the indefensible occupation of Palestine by Israel.

“It is because of Namibia’s experience with apartheid and its long fight for self-determination that we cannot look the other way in the face of the brutal atrocities committed against the Palestinian people,” said the minister while addressing the court.

She took the opportunity to remind the hearing about late president Hage Geingob’s last statements that no peace-loving human being can ignore the
carnage waged against Palestinians in Gaza.

She indicated: “The General Assembly condemned and declared the policies of apartheid and racial discrimination as a crime against humanity. Consequently, the General Assembly also appropriately terminated the mandate in South West Africa.” She added that Germany brutally carried out the first genocide of the 20th century against the Ovaherero and Nama people. Hence, Namibia is in the right position to present such statements, as it knows too well of the pain and suffering of occupation, colonialism and the systematic discrimination of apartheid.

“Both Namibians and Palestinians have suffered the loss of human dignity, life, liberty and the outright theft of their land and natural resources. Hundreds of thousands of their people were violently expelled from their homes or forced into exile, joining the ranks of the world’s refugees,” she reminded the ICJ.

Dausab said the atrocities experienced by the people of Palestine evoke painful memories for many Namibians of her generation, and that Namibians still experienced the entrenched and structural impact of inequality as a direct consequence of colonialism and the prolonged unlawful occupation.

Okowa, who represented Namibia at the hearing, said Israel’s occupation in itself is unlawful. It violates the charter of the United Nations and peremptory norms, specifically the prohibition on territorial acquisitions through the illegal use of force.

She said the principle of self-determination and the prohibition
of apartheid envisages any
belligerent occupation as a temporary measure immediately following military operations.
Israel’s prolonged or permanent occupation breaches the law of occupation, and is a de facto annexation in all but name. Okowa indicated that in both its written and oral submissions, Namibia focuses on the prohibition of apartheid and racial discrimination.

“This is in part on account of Namibia’s history as one of the few countries that were subjected to this form of systematic and institutionalised racial discrimination. We also do so on account of the fundamental importance of 1971, where this court declared that the policies of apartheid constitute a denial of fundamental human rights under a flagrant violation of the purposes and principles of the United Nations’ charter,” she stressed. She stated that the strategic fragmentation of the occupied Palestinian territory into bantustans makes Palestinian life burdensome and in many cases unbearable, forcing them to leave their homes.

“Israel must bear consequences for its violations. This is the most elementary requirement of the law on state responsibility, and this includes the obligations of secession, and the duty for more than five decades of harms inflicted on the Palestinian people,” she continued. Okowa said Namibia shares the view that Israel’s policies and practices meet the evidentiary standard for establishing the state, aimed at ensuring Jewish Israeli control of all facets of Palestinian life as evidenced by legislation affirming Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

She said: “From all the evidence presented, this discriminatory practice is designed for the specific purpose of privileging Jewish Israelis over Palestinians.”

2024-02-27  Paheja Siririka

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