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Hamas’ brigades conducted an unprecedented and widespread attack that saw thousands of rockets fired and fighters reaching Israel from the Gaza Strip, triggering Israeli airstrikes on the enclave that has been described as an “open-air prison” because of a land, sea, and air blockade by Israel.

Israel has halted the supply of electricity, fuel and goods to Gaza. The Biden-led U.S. regime has pledged military assistance of 8-billion US dollars to Israel. Israel already receives 3.8 billion dollars in military aid from the US government.

Demonstrations of solidarity with Palestine were held today in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban under the banner of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign and Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). They called for an ‘end of all links with apartheid Israel, the Israeli ambassador in Pretoria be declared a persona non grata and for diplomatic relations to be severed, and for the prosecution of South Africans joining the Israeli occupation forces in total contravention of our Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act.’

In Cape Town

“We are here to demonstrate our support for the Palestinians who are bombed, whose homes are being demolished by sea, by air, through artillery and are asked to flee and are under siege as they don’t have water, electricity. They are starved and this is in breach of the Geneva Convention. It is a genocide that is taking place, a genocide far worse than any active apartheid anywhere else in the world in recent modern history,” said the coordinator of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Usuf Chikte.

The Cape Town protest was held outside the Israel Centre. “We came here because this is where the Zionist network operates from. They recruit young people to join the Israeli Defence Force, the occupation forces – prosecute them and we want the National Prosecuting Authority to accelerate the charges against these people,” said Chikte.

Trade unionist and PSC committee member, Abeedah Adams told Elitsha that South Africans have a moral responsibility because of our own history of apartheid to support Palestinian people. “You can see the double standards in the international community right now. Biden has announced another 8-billion dollars in aid for Israel but our Palestinian brothers and sisters are not getting any support. The international community, the EU and the US are very quick to say that the Ukrainian people have the right to defend themselves but the very same right is not afforded to the Palestinian people and they do have the right. It is our moral responsibility to resist the occupation and the colonialism that is taking place in Gaza,” said Adams.

The demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinians identify Israel as the oppressor and therefore the aggressor. Photo by Mzi Velapi

“Palestine is a litmus test for social justice in the world. Secondly, Palestine is at the forefront of anti-colonial struggle and the new colonial form that plunders Africa, Latin America and the Asian region. Israel is an outsourced military base for imperialism and the European Union to police the area and to ensure that the plunder continues. If Palestine falls, it would be a great loss to our anti-imperialist struggle and that is why we fight against imperialism and in solidarity with Palestinians as well,” said Chikte.

The protesters promised to intensify the action and said that there will be more protests in the coming days.

In Johannesburg

Palestine solidarity protesters converged outside the U.S. consulate in Sandton. They called on the U.S. government to condemn Israel and stand with the oppressed. Failure to heed their call would see the increasing intensity of international solidarity, condemnation and mass boycott of U.S. and Israel-linked businesses and products.

“We are calling for an end to the Zionist occupation in Palestine which is hugely funded by the United States of America; hence we are here today at the US embassy. We demand a one state solution for the people of Palestine. It is unfortunate that this day and time there is a state that is suffering apartheid the same way South Africa was,” said Nawal Boutazart of PSC at the University of Pretoria.  

Hundreds gathered in Sandton outside the U.S. consulate to protest that country’s ‘unwavering’ support for Israel. Photo by Simon Ramapuputla

Activist and filmmaker, Rehad Desai, suggested this war between Israel and Palestine also calls for the unity of all Arab nations against the apartheid regime of Israel. “They have to get behind Palestine. It is only through the united Arab world that we can begin to dislodge the power and undermine the brutality of the apartheid regime of Israel. Although it is still a long way, if we did it in South Africa, we can do it for Palestine as well.”

Zithulele Cindi, the chairperson of Bench-Marks Foundation appealed for an immediate end to hostilities on all sides, especially where innocent lives are caught in the crossfire. He called for all faith-based organisations across the globe to work together and bring long-lasting peace to the affected nations.