South Africa on Friday called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Israel's leaders for war crimes and genocide in the Gaza Strip, where a month-long bombardment has killed more than 11,<> Palestinians, most of them children and women.

The South African Foreign Ministry summoned Israel's ambassador to protest what it described as his deplorable behavior linked to the war on Gaza.

Earlier this week, Pretoria recalled all its diplomats from Israel.

South Africa called on the United Nations to deploy a rapid force to protect civilians in Gaza.

ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan (French)

International humanitarian law

ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said Israel must abide by international humanitarian law.

Khan stressed the need for humanitarian workers to be allowed into Gaza.

The prosecutor announced at the end of October that his court was independently investigating what was happening in Palestine and Israel.

Request for Inquiry

Meanwhile, three Palestinian human rights organizations have submitted a request to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate war crimes committed by Israel against civilians in the Gaza Strip.

In a joint statement, the three organizations (Al-Haq, Al-Mezan Center, and the Palestinian Campaign for Human Rights) called on the ICC to focus on Israeli airstrikes on Gaza's densely populated civilian areas, blockade of the Strip, and the displacement of its residents.

"These acts amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide and incitement," the statement said.

The ICC said on Friday it had received a letter from Palestinian organizations and would examine the information contained therein.

Israel is not a member of the Hague-based ICC and does not recognize its jurisdiction.

Storr: It is naïve to think that a two-state solution will be close (Reuters)

Protection of civilians

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gare Storr said Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip was a violation of international law of war.

Sturr added – in an interview with Norwegian radio – that civilians have the right to protection, and that all violations of the international law of war must be condemned, considering that it is up to the courts to decide whether these violations are war crimes.

He said Israel had the right to self-defense, but said what was highly controversial was how Israel's actions in Gaza could give it long-term security.

"Children who survived this hell in Gaza will not reconcile in the future," the Norwegian prime minister said.

He said the only solution was a two-state solution, but made it clear that it would be naïve to think that such a solution would be soon.

Store said he saw no reason to be optimistic, predicting the situation would get worse.