By Kouthar Sambo
Palestinian supporters showcased their support in commemoration of Nakba Day on Monday, 15 May highlighting 75 years of forced displacement and expulsion of Palestinians.
With heightened emotion, hundreds of supporters gathered at the Muir Street Mosque in District 6 and made their way through Hanover and Adderley Street chanting “Free, free Palestine.”
Once the crowd eventually arrived at Parliament, various political organizations, activists, and religious scholars addressed the crowd and delivered their speeches on the Israeli oppression and genocide committed against Palestinians on a daily basis.
“It is 75 years of agony, 75 years of killing and murder, 75 years of genocide – so it’s not a once-off catastrophe, it’s been going on for 75 years,” says Director of Al-Quds Foundation of South Africa Sheikh Ebrahim Gabriels, who went on to say that the Israeli Defence Force is ranked as the fourth most powerful army in the world and therefore, the oppression against Palestinians not a fair fight.
“I’ve seen a video of a young girl with so much fear in her eyes when the Israeli army enters their homes by force in the middle of the night. So, it’s definitely not a conflict, it’s injustice and oppression.”
First Deputy President of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) Moulana Abdul Khaliq Allie explains that the everyday life of Palestinians is not an accurate depiction of the brutal reality Palestinians endure on a daily basis.
According to Moulana, Gaza is the “largest open-air prison” and emphasizes why Israel is deemed an Apartheid regime.
“Can you imagine the number of children being killed? What has the child done? And so when we ask why it’s important to join the march, it is because the Nakba (catastrophe) continues, the killing continues and it hasn’t stopped. It is saying to the Israeli Apartheid state that your laws and violation are amongst the worse of atrocities,” says Moulana.
Furthermore, what Israel is doing is no different from what the Apartheid state of South Africa did, explains the Leader of the National Freedom Party (NFP) Ahmed Munzoor Shaik Emam.
“Being 75 years, they have gone through what we’ve gone through in this country (maybe even worse) and we know and understand best what Apartheid is – violations of human rights – we’ve experienced it, we’ve lived it and so I think it is only fair that we come together,” expressed Shaik. He went on to quote the words of former leader Nelson Mandela: “We can’t be free unless the people of Palestine are free.”
National spokesperson of Al Jama-ah, advocate Shameemah Salie outlines the daily life of Palestinians living in the besieged Gaza Strip. She added that while load-shedding is a problem for South Africans, explains Salie, the situation is nothing compared to the gruesome reality of Palestinians who are deprived of basic human rights.
“When you have been to Palestine (I’ve been there thrice), you will understand. When physical walls are separating Palestinians from the Zionists, when you see people separated from their families, when your very existence is dependent on an unlawful occupier, you will understand what Apartheid is. The worse is that Gaza is an open-air prison with bombs raining down upon the people of Gaza, there are no basic human rights,” reiterated Salie.
“We talk about load-shedding in South Africa, in Gaza there is constant load-shedding, there is the constant difficulty of securing a basic right of water in Palestine, their homes are bombed, and their children are killed, there is a genocide and an ethnic cleansing that’s been happening for 75 years,” she added.
Head of Islamic heritage department in Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem Abeer Zayyad, says she joined the march as a refugee on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza who will never forget their homeland irrespective of how long the fight would take. Zayyad deems the oppression in Palestine worse than Apartheid but firmly believes that a day will come when Palestinians will claim their land again.
“There is no equality, there is no rights, they are taking our homes, they are taking our land and they are killing us on a daily basis. We will never forget our homeland and we are going back. It does not matter what they do or how many years it will take us, but we will go back home, Insha-Allah (if Allah wills it),” Zayyad proudly proclaimed.