Hundreds of South Africans have protested Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip and the ongoing crackdown at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.
“Where is the humanity? People are dying. We feel the pain with you,” Sheikh Riad Fataar, deputy president of South Africa’s Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) told the SABC broadcaster Wednesday at the protest in Cape Town.
Fataar demanded the government, political parties and citizens support the Palestinian cause to end decades of occupation and subjugation.
Protesters waving Palestinian flags and placards marched to the South African parliament to express their dissatisfaction with Israel.
“We are here today in solidarity with the Palestinian people and for human rights,” Mitchel Joffe from the South African Jews for a Free Palestine group told local broadcaster VOCFM.
He said his group recognizes that the Israel is an apartheid state founded on colonialism that is maintaining its policy of ethnic cleansing in Gaza, Jerusalem, and the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
Israel continues to target Gaza with heavy bombardment, so far killing 83 Palestinians, including 17 children and seven women, according to health officials. At least 487 others have been injured, in addition to heavy damage to residential buildings across the enclave.
Tensions have been running high in the Sheikh Jarrah area in occupied East Jerusalem over the past month as Israeli settlers swarmed in following a court order for the eviction of Palestinian families in the area.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed the entire city in 1980 — a move that has never been recognized by the international community.
‘Shut down the embassy’
The protest was organized by the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), Al Quds Foundation, several pro-Palestinian organizations and political parties.
Lawmaker Chief Zwelivelile “Mandla” Mandela, a traditional leader and grandson of Nelson Mandela, and his wife Rabia Mandela, participated in the protest.
“We want our government to hear the call of its people. We are saying we do not want a downgrade of the South African Embassy in Israel. We want to totally shut down our embassy in Tel Aviv,” he said.
Mandla said South Africa should fully reinstate and support its embassy in Ramallah, Palestine to show solidarity with Palestinians.