This was the message at a small picket held outside the Port Elizabeth City Hall on Tuesday in support of The Great Return March, which is a series of rallies by Palestinian people culminating on Tuesday on the anniversary of the Nakba.
Protests took place across South African cities on Tuesday in support of Palestine, this after Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian protesters on the Israel-Gaza border on Monday, leaving at least 60 dead and more than 2,400 wounded. Palestinians had gathered in their tens of thousands to denounce the move by the US to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The killings sparked widespread outrage from the international community and human rights organisations, while South Africa and a myriad local organisations also condemned the actions by Israel. The South African government immediately withdrew its ambassador to Israel in protest.
In Port Elizabeth, Professor Janet Cherry of Nelson Mandela University said only an international response which has the power to isolate and put pressure on the Israeli regime would succeed in curbing Israeli aggression.
“It is the legitimate right of the Palestinians to protest their situation for 70 years and today is the commemoration of the Nakba, the catastrophe in which the Palestinian people were dispossessed.
“The killing of peaceful protesters in Gaza is something that requires an international response and that international response can isolate and put pressure on the Israeli regime so that they change their behaviour [or] at the very least to have some restraint in the way in which they deal with the legitimate demands of the Palestinian people,” said Cherry.
Ismail Abdullah, who visited Palestine two weeks ago, said he believed that it was the collusion and collaboration of world powers like the United States and Britain who have denied the freedom and rights of Palestinian people.
“They can’t speak to foreigners, when they speak to anyone they can be intimidated or questioned. They are forcibly removed, their water gets taken away, people’s lives are lost every day, every moment. How many Israeli soldiers have been hurt or injured? They come with weapons of mass destruction,” said Abdullah.
Sheikh Shamiel Panday said that it was up to the man on the street to show solidarity with the Palestinian people because “no country as a whole gives a damn”.
“It’s up to us John Doe and public to do what we need to do to show solidarity with the people of Palestine. We need to show that we support the Palestinian people in their fight against the Israeli government. Our best weapon is prayer, we are united,” said Panday.
He said that while the gathering outside City Hall was very small, there was an intention to have more pickets.
African National Congress (ANC) regional secretary Themba Xathula told the small crowd that solidarity work must continue and called for a much bigger march of support. “We understand those who are in power in Nelson Mandela Bay metro won’t form part of us solely because they are beneficiaries of the Israel-Palestinian war. We, as the ANC, will continue to support,” said Xathula.
– African News Agency (ANA)