The Palestine Solidarity Campaign staged an impromptu protest and marched to Parliament in Cape Town in solidarity with Palestine residents.
South African political parties and civil society groups yesterday lambasted the “brutal violence” and “atrocities” allegedly committed by Israel authorities against Palestinians and the groups called for South Africa to end trade with Israel.
Civil society called on the South African government to take a much stronger stance towards Israel, including stopping trade.
Former ANC Cabinet minister Ronnie Kasrils expressed anger at what he termed “ethnic cleansing” and “criminal action” by Israel against the Palestinians in east Jerusalem.
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The South African Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Coalition said Pretoria must stop trading with Israel forthwith.
The SA government also expressed deep concern at the continued clashes at Al-Aqsa Mosque where Israeli soldiers attacked Palestinian worshippers.
At the weekend, the international relations and cooperation department condemned the attacks and planned evictions of Palestinians. It said Israel’s action was in “stark violation of international law and UN Security Council Resolutions 446 (1979) and 2334 (2016).
“The latter resolution explicitly calls for an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and the fulfilment of the rights of the Palestinian people, including to self-determination and independence,” the department said.
“These acts are not only illegal but also risk undermining the viability of a negotiated twostate solution.”
But yesterday, in a statement issued through its embassy in Pretoria, Israel vowed to “take any action necessary to protect its citizens. It is the right and the duty of every state”.
The violence was sparked when Israeli police raided Al-Aqsa Mosque where Arab people were praying in Jerusalem and evicted Palestine residents last week.
Youths and police have been involved in violent battles for days and international condemnation of Israel’s action is increasing.
The calls come as political parties in SA condemned the attacks involving the use of rubber bullets, teargas and stun grenades by Israeli police in running battles with the youth for several days.
Al Jama-ah party lashed out at what its parliamentary leader, Ganief Hendricks, called “aggression” against Palestinians.
“The Al Jama-ah party strongly condemns the brutal violence and atrocities committed against the Palestinians by the apartheid Israeli settler regime.
“Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third largest holiest place of Islam and revered by Muslims throughout the world. The attack on praying Palestinians in the holiest month for Muslims is barbaric and attests to the cowardice of the oppressive Zionist regime,” Hendricks said.
In a statement, the Israel embassy reported that since yesterday Palestinian “terrorist organisations” in Gaza have been firing rockets at Jerusalem, other cities and Israeli communities along the border with Gaza.
“Since yesterday, over 200 rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israeli civilians.
“These events are part of a wave of terror that is being led by the terrorist organisation Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and are the result of reckless and irresponsible incitement to violence,” it said.
The embassy accused these organisations of committing another war crime by launching an “indiscriminate attack on a civilian population”.
It added: “Israel sought to achieve calm in Jerusalem. We took every measure to prevent conflict or violence.”
It said these included postponing the Supreme Court hearing regarding Sheikh Jarrah, blocking Jews from visiting Temple Mount and cancelling the Flag March.
It also said Israel had acted in a measured manner in response to the rockets and incendiary balloons launched from the Gaza Strip.
“We call on the international community to condemn the rocket fire and Palestinian terrorism targeting Israeli citizens in the strongest manner, as well as to support Israel’s right to self-defence.”
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA criticised Israel for its “relentless attacks” on Palestinians.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign staged an impromptu protest and marched to parliament in Cape Town in solidarity with Palestine residents.
The campaign’s representative urged the Ramaphosa government to stand up for the Palestinian people and their freedom from Israel like Mandela did.
“We need our leaders to speak up from the top,” said a spokesperson for the group.