A protest march to Parliament has called for the immediate expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador from South Africa.
About three thousand Cape Townians, religious leaders and politicians marched to Parliament calling for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador from South Africa. This comes after the withdrawal of the South African Ambassador to Israel following that country’s deadly attack on the non-violent protests by Palestinians demanding the right to return to their land. The aim of the protest is also to bring the world’s attention to the ongoing siege of Gaza that prevents their free movement and blocks access to basic goods and services.
Israeli military snipers have since the start of the Great March of Return six seeks ago been firing on unarmed protestors. On the eve of the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel, commemorated by Palestinians as The Catastrophe (Al Nakba), 59 Palestinians were shot and killed. Monday’s opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem further intensified the Palestinian struggle.
Addressing the crowds outside of Parliament, the National Coalition for Palestine chairperson, Reverend Edwin Arrison, said that the people have more power than the politicians and should use it. He also urged the protestors, most of whom were Muslim, to engage their neighbours who might be Christian about what is happening in Israel. “Make sure that they understand that the Israel that is talked about in the Bible is different to the one we have today. The one in the Bible is a spiritual state and the one we have is an apartheid state,” said Arrison.
Tony Ehrenreich from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) pledged support for the removal of the Israeli Ambassador to South Africa. “We want to applaud the recalling of our ambassador from Israel but we want the government to kick out the Israeli Ambassador and we want the government to investigate the Jewish Board of Deputies who are supporting Israel,” he said. The provincial secretary also urged government to close its ports to products that come from Israel.
Meanwhile Heidi Grunebaum from SA Jews for a Free Palestine said that they support the call for the full rights of Palestinian refugees to return, full civil rights for Palestinians and an end to the military occupation of the West Bank.
“We can’t be friendly to those who kill children. We get daily reports from Palestine as to what is happening. We don’t care if the Jewish Board of Deputies calls us terrorists or anti-semitic, it’s not about religion but an issue of human rights,” said African National Congress Deputy Secretary, Jessie Duarte. She reiterated the call for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador from South Africa.
A memorandum of demands was accepted by Member of Parliament Mandla Mandela who also condemned the killing of children and applauded the removal of the South African Ambassador to Israel.