SA’S LARGEST MARCH FOR PALESTINE SOLIDARITY
By: Khanyisani Dlomo
Up to 100 000 protesters are expected to pour through central Cape Town in the largest march in South African history – demanding government to take decisive diplomatic action against the on-going Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Nearly 1,900 Palestinians were killed in the fighting, most of them civilians, according to Palestinian medics. Israel says some 900 Palestinian militants were among the dead.
The national march – which starts from Keizersgracht street to SA Parliament – comes on the back of over 40 protests across the country and is organized by a wide-range of civil society organizations, trade unions and political parties under the banner of the National Coalition 4 Palestine (NC4P).
Protesters call for President Jacob Zuma’s government to cut ties with Israel.
“We demand that the Israeli ambassador to South Africa – as an ambassador of an apartheid state, as an ambassador of a regime committing crimes against humanity – has no place here in a democratic South Africa,” said KwaZulu-Natal Palestine Solidarty Forum Co-ordinator, Dr Clint Le Bruyns.
“We want to hear President Zuma say, ‘my dear citizens, he is gone, he is no longer here. The Israeli ambassador is expelled, and he is no longer welcome here … until Palestine is free’,” Le Bruyns said.
“We have also called for the recall of the South African ambassador to Israel and other political and diplomatic actions.”
Le Bruyns said if government cannot follow through with these demands, solidarity struggle with Palestine will evolve into something much more decisive. “Specific measures will indeed be engaged, should our demands be ignored, trivialised, invalidated or repudiated.”
In a statement this week, NC4P said the march takes place on Women’s Day to “celebrate the mothers and sisters of Palestine who stand steadfast, every single day, against Israeli oppression”.
“We stand in solidarity and in support of justice, equality and freedom for the Palestinian people. We oppose, in the strongest terms, the military invasion of the Gaza Strip and the on-going Apartheid practices of the Israeli state,” the statement read.
Western Cape ANCYL convenor, Muhammad Sayed said that they will mobilize thousands of young people to join the march.
“The ANCYL wants to make it clear to our leadership deployed in government that South Africans demand decisive action towards isolating Israel, until the Israeli government has shown its intention to withdraw from occupied territories and to end it’s Apartheid policies,” Sayed said.
“We will continue to put pressure on our leaders to take firmer action against Israeli apartheid aggression imposed on the Palestinian people.”