An exhibition match between the Palestinian national soccer team and the Western Cape SAFA (South African Football Association) invitation XI, that was played at Athlone stadium on Sunday, was hailed as a successful show of solidarity for the people of Palestine.
The South African government has been at the forefront of calling for ceasefire and an end to the genocide of the people of Palestine by the Israeli government. Last month, South Africa took the Israeli government to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for committing genocide on Palestinians. The ICJ ruled that Israel has to take the necessary measures to prevent all acts of genocide, incitement against the people of Palestine and has to take effective measures to ensure humanitarian aid gets in.
The Palestinian national team hopes that it will do better when they meet the national invitation XI next week.
Addressing journalists before the match which ended in a 1-0 in favour of the Western Cape invitation XI, the Minister of Justice, Ronald Lamola said that the game was about sending a message of solidarity to the people of Palestine against “the Zionist state of Israel”. “We call for a ceasefire and for the Israeli government to stop the bombardment of civilians and infrastructure in the Gaza strip,” Lamola said.
According to spokesperson of the Gift of the Givers, Ali Sablay, the Israeli government has failed to implement the ICJ ruling as humanitarian aid is being blocked by Israeli citizens and the government is doing nothing to stop them. “The greatest challenge is getting humanitarian aid into Gaza. At the Rafah border, which is about three kilometres, it takes three days to get into Gaza. The citizens are blocking trucks from going through. Egypt sometimes opens the border, but Israel government tries by all means to delay aid into Gaza. The most important is that hospitals in Palestine cannot function. All medication and other goods are being blocked. Hospitals do not have anaesthetics, no oxygen, no power and there is no fuel to keep the operations going. In fact, what is happening there is that the hospital is a mortuary. As you come to the hospital, you are not going to come out because of the dire need for medication. This is despite the ICJ ruling that Israel should ensure humanitarian aid,” he said.
The Minister Lamola told Elitsha that they are aware of the blockade of humanitarian aid and they call on Israel to comply with the ruling of ICJ. “They need to supply us with the report and feedback in two weeks time,” he said. The Israeli government was given until 23 February to report to the ICJ on what it has done to comply with the six orders issued by the court.
The money from tickets sales go towards solidarity efforts for the people of Palestine.
As the government delegation was introduced, the mayor of Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis was booed when his name was mentioned while President Ramaphosa and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Naledi Pandor, were greeted with applause. Also present was the Minister of Sports, Zizi Kodwa and Minister of Justice, Ronald Lamola.
The stadium was packed with supporters of the Palestinian team. Before the match started, the president addressed the near-capacity Athlone stadium: “Today we celebrate humanity but we also signify our support as people of South Africa to the struggle of Palestine. The majority of people in this country, the government and the governing party support the people of Palestine. We are following in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela who told us that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians. We also remember the day on which the father of our nation, Nelson Mandela was freed.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa used the opportunity to campaign for the ANC as he reaffirmed the governing party’s support for Palestine.
Activist and trade union leader, Abeedah Adams, said that accusing Israel of genocide won’t be enough to isolate the apartheid regime. The South African government must cut all diplomatic ties with Israel and lead a “full and comprehensive disinvestment, sanction and boycott campaign”. Adams also called for the prosecution of South Africans that serve in the Israeli occupation force.