South African pro-Palestinian organisations are galvanising support for a mass demonstration to Parliament on Tuesday 15th May, known globally as Nakba Day – ‘The Catastrophe’. This year marks the 70th year of the Nakba – observed annually as the day in which 700,000 Palestinians were forced to flee Palestine as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and seek refuge in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, often without citizenship being granted. This event led the establishment of the illegal state of Israel.
A global campaign in support of Nakba Day is being coordinated in the wake of the Palestinian nonviolent demonstrations at the Gaza border which has been ongoing since the end of March. 45 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli fire at the border every Friday during the protests over the past few weeks.
The 15th of May 2018 is significant because, firstly, it will be the culmination of the Palestinian people’s #GreatReturnMarch, but it is also the day that Donald Trump has declared that the US Embassy will be moved, in violation of intentional law, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The Global Campaign to Return to Palestine has proposed a “tent campaign,” in which Palestine advocates erect tents in conspicuous places in cities, and from there share information with passers-by. These tents are a perfect conversation-starter, since the Great Return March rallies around tents, and symbolize the plight of refugees and those whose homes have been demolished by Israel.
In response to this call, local Palestine solidarity groups will host a Great March of Solidarity Tent next to the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town, a bastion of colonialism and oppression during South Africa’s apartheid history.
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) South Africa spokesperson Muhammed Desai said the Great Return March is a very important element of the Palestinian resistance. He described it as the “celebration of the Palestinians” and their right to return.
“We want to send a very clear message to the Palestine struggle that their actions are not going unnoticed. When South Africans are going to the streets, we will be standing shoulder to shoulder not just with our fellow South Africans but also the international community. We will be mobilizing to put pressure on Israel,” said Desai.
Pro-Palestinian organisations in Palestine will host various programs and protests on that day as well. In Cape Town, the main protest will be taking place in Cape Town at 11 am in Keizergracht Street to Parliament.
Desai said there will be protests around the country,and what makes this protest significant is that the Christian community will hosting an event at St Georges Cathedral at 5pm to mark Nakba day.
Various Palestinian solidarity groups including the Palestinian Museum will host the tenant, to symbolize the tents that are on the boarders between Gaza and Israel.
“The Palestinian population consists of over 160 million people and 70% of those people are refugees who literally have the keys to their homes and can see it [over the border]but are not allowed entry. As BDS South Africa, we often question the point of having protest but these protests do have an effect,” he added.
“However, we also gather here to celebrate the human spirit of resistance. Like us during the darkest days of Apartheid, Palestinians are finding creative means of resisting the illegal Israeli occupation and Apartheid regime. Instead of dying in silence, Palestinians have decided to march for life. The #GreatReturnMarch is a protest of a people who want nothing more than to live in dignity,” added the ANC in the Western Cape.
See all the programmes here at the Great March of Solidarity Tent: