The Cape Town CBD came to a standstill on Wednesday as 40 000 people set foot through the streets in support of Palestine. Many say it was the largest pro-Palestinian march the city has seen in years. Carrying Palestinian flags and banners, protestors marched peacefully, calling for end to Zionism and Israeli occupation.
This follows the offensive operation by the Israeli military that has already killed over 200 Palestinians in Gaza. The march headed by the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) and Al Quds Foundation in partnership with local civil organisations, handed over a memorandum to Parliament, in a bid to have the South African government show more than just moral support to Palestine.
According to renowned local alim, Sheikh Riyaad Walls, the protest action is not only for the Muslim community but for all denominations, as the oppression on Palestine is a direct disregard to their basic human rights.
“The Prophet Muhammed (SAW) said: ‘The lightness of the believers in the love that they have for each other and the compassion that they show towards one another is the lightness of a single body. If one part of the body feels pain then the rest of the body feels pain. So, when Palestinians bleed, we bleed,” Walls said.
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich spoke of the immense support the 2 million members of the union has given to the people of Palestine.
Ehrenreich said: “We must stand together as Christians, Muslims, Jews… as all people of South Africa against the oppression.”
Palestinian ambassador to South Africa, Abdel Hafiz Noulaf shared some of the many fears and difficulties currently plaguing thousands of Palestinians as the Israeli offensive continues and the death toll increases. His address received cheers from the crowd as they sympathise with a country experiencing the same oppression as they did during apartheid.
Noulaf also thanked the South African community for using its rich history of fighting for liberation to now take the battle to Israel for the people of Palestine.
Former president of MJC, Sheikh Ebrahim Gabriel offered a prayer for the safety of Gaza’s people, trapped in the coastal enclave.
“You see Parliament here, before it was controlled by the apartheid government, now it is a place for us, a place that ensures our human rights is upheld. Palestine will be free,” Gabriels said.
“We want Israel and its allies to be aware of the fact that now, they might think they have all the power but there is only on Almighty. We call on the South African government to expel the Israeli ambassador and cut all relations with Israel.”
Pro-Palestinian activist Zahid Asmal called for all those complicit in Israeli war crimes to be prosecuted. He urged the National Prosecuting Authority to charge and arrest these individuals.
A memorandum with a list of demands was handed over to Parliamentary officials in the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. The memorandum is a collective bid to encourage the national government to not only condemn the atrocities committed by the Zionist regime, but to take action. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)