The National Coalition for Palestine are set to host a mass march towards Parliament on Saturday 9th August, calling for urgent government action against Israel’s nearly month long bombardment of the Gaza Strip. The march is being billed as the biggest such event in the country post-Apartheid, with organisers hoping to attract more than 100 000 pro-Palestinian supporters from across the country. The march also coincides with National Woman’s Day.
The coalition is fronted by a number of local civil society groups, including the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), ANC Youth League, Cosatu, and BDS South Africa. According to BDS coordinator, Muhammed Desai, the march would come on the back of 44 similar protest actions across the country since the beginning of the conflictand would look to pressurise the national government into taking concrete action against Israel’s actions in Gaza.
“We need to make it very clear to the South African government that the majority of South Africans from across the board, from the workers of Cosatu, to the churches and mosques, are calling on them to take a very clear stand on the Israeli attacks on Gaza,” he said.
The march has been billed as the largest to take place in the country since 1994, when former president Nelson Mandela was released from prison. That event attracted 90 000 people, and Desai noted they were looking to top that by mobilising more than 100 000 to attend Saturday’s event.
“We can only achieve that with the support of the community, so we are asking communities to call up your families in far flung towns and cities, and encourage them all to come through for this protest,” he said.
The main aim of the march is to send a message to the Israeli government that their actions in Gaza were unacceptable. He said they would call on national government to start off a diplomatic protest against Israel, by recalling the South African ambassador to Israel, as well as expelling the Israeli ambassador from the country. They would also call on government to implement a program of broad based boycotts against Israel.
“We are demanding that South Africa follows the lead of over 70 European Union countries, who have issued warnings to businesses, citizens, and other groups not to do trade with Israeli settlements, and not to have any sort of dealings with companies operating in the occupied Palestinian territories,” he said.
He also noted they would be putting pressure on government to act on the Gaza Docket, and hold those South Africans serving in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) accountable for the merciless killings of innocent Palestinians.
Desai said they were expecting a number of top dignitaries to attend Saturday’s march. This included the children of a number of South African struggle veterans and political party representatives. He also noted a widespread support amongst local celebrities and musicians and were expecting a number of them to come out to the march.
He urged community members to show their solidarity for the Palestinian cause by coming out in their thousands and join the overwhelming number of protests taking place across the globe.
Saturday’s march will start off at Keizergracht at 11am, before proceeding to Parliament where a memorandum will likely be handed over to parliamentary representative. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)