top of page

The Hague and the Soft Power of Hamas in South Africa

The trial in The Hague, following South Africa's accusations of Israel committing genocide, represent one of the greatest displays of hypocrisy in history. This event is marked by a series of baseless and false allegations against Israel in a theatrical display, underscored by structural bias. It is unimaginable that Israel is on trial and not Hamas, following its horrific pogrom on October 7th. This spectacle, even if Israel is vindicated, highlights the moral distortion pervasive in 21st-century international institutions: the legitimization of  institutionalized antisemitism. But how did this come about?

What we witnessed in The Hague evidences the integration of South Africa into Hamas's "diplomatic ring of fire," constructed in conjunction with partners in the axis of resistance. Relying on an existing platform of Islamist organizations and the Red-Green Alliance, together with diplomatic support from Qatar, Turkey, and Iran, Hamas has effectively become a global player, highly adept at  using soft power. Previously we have described Hamas’ 'strategic depth' in the USA; today, the focus is on South Africa.

Hamas in South Africa
In the Photograph: The heads of Hamas Political Bureau with the president of South Africa Jacob Zuma during a visit in the country (2015). Source: IntelliTimes

The African National Congress, the ruling party, which led the anti-apartheid struggle, has exhibited hostility towards Israel since it rose to power in 1994, evidenced by its repeated recall of ambassadors, including after the October 7 massacre.


South Africa is a major hub for the global BDS movement, possessing a special symbolic stature, due to BDS's attempts to label Israel as an apartheid state. The red-green alliance prominently influences South Africa, with organizations like the Palestinian Solidarity Alliance, Freedom for Palestine, the National Coalition 4 Palestine, and Africa for Palestine amplifying anti-Israel discourse. Former anti apartheid activists endorsing BDS lends symbolic legitimacy. COSATU, the umbrella trade union organization and a symbol in the anti-apartheid fight, is also actively opposing Israel internationally, with the boycott movement echoed in academic circles.


Interestingly, South Africa has followed the trend of the radical left in the West in the aftermath of Arafat’s death, “pledging loyalty” to Hamas at the expense of the PLO. This is because the radical left perceives the Palestinian Authority, born from the Israel-PLO agreement, as a facilitator of Israeli "licensed occupation". There's even a reported Hamas representation in Cape Town. Commentator Pazit Ravina, in her insightful article for ‘Makor Rishon,’ which I drew much from, noted that South Africa's foreign minister, Naledi Pandor, spoke to Ismail Haniyeh post-Hamas pogrom, asserting that Israel has no right to self-defense. In early December, South Africa hosted a senior Hamas delegation led by the Hamas representative in Iran.


South Africa's support for Hamas is also influenced by upgraded relations with Qatar and Iran. Recently, several diplomatic and economic agreements were signed with Qatar, where Hamas leadership resides. The first official use of the notion of "genocide" by South Africa coincided with their president's visit to Doha in November.


Iran boasts claims of former president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela being inspired by the Islamic revolution (see here). In Tehran, a central boulevard is named after him. Iran and South Africa have strengthened their ties, with Mandla Mandela, Nelson's grandson and a member of the ruling party, playing a pivotal role. Mandela frequently visits Tehran and also heads the Africa 4 Palestine organization, which celebrates Iranian Al-Quds Day. Mandela was recently awarded the Islamic Prize for Human Rights in Tehran and was instrumental in the parliament's decision to close Israel's embassy and suspend diplomatic relations last November. Mandela also hosted the aforementioned Hamas delegation in December.

Mandela in South Africa
The grandson of Nelson Mandela at Tehran International Conference on Palestine last December. Source: Instagram

The genocide case against Israel in The Hague, was orchestrated to unknown extent across the Tehran-Doha-Gaza-Pretoria axis. Clearly, the threat posed by Hamas extends beyond its military challenge to Israel in Gaza. Israel must recognize and strategically counteract Hamas's global soft power and the Axis of Resistance. This is a crucial task that demands immediate attention and action.


bottom of page