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Picketers blocked from protesting against Peres

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Pro-Palestine activists have criticized how Israeli private security were given control to block members of the public from picketing in Sandton. The South African Jews For Palestine organized a protest yesterday outside the Sandton Convention Centre against the visit of ex-Israeli prime minister, Shimon Peres, to South Africa.

Muslim Lawyers Association (MLA) representative, Ziyaad Patel, explained that the reason for the protest is the fact that Peres is a war-criminal and should therefore be indicted to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Peres, as prime minister from 2007 until June 2014, oversaw four ghastly wars, including; operation cast lead in 2008/2009, operation pillar of descent in 2012, and operation protective edge in 2014. These operations resulted in the “slaughter” of thousands of Palestinians.

“Our view is that Peres is a war-criminal and should be indicted at the ICC, we are aware that (MLA) had brought an application in the course of the last week before the national prosecuting authority, mainly the national director of public prosecution,” Patel stated.

A docket, known as the Peres Docket, was opened, and lists the crimes for which Peres will be investigated. Of the crimes to be investigated, the crime of Apartheid is listed, which speaks to the discriminatory practice of the state of Israel.

Israeli security forces, which were carrying automatic rifles, closed Republic Road and barricaded Maude Street – the road on which the entrance to the Sandton Convention Centre is located. The protesters were “pushed” to the corner of 5th Street, which Patel asserts, is “totally unacceptable and in violation of the South African constitution.”

“Our main issue with the South African Police Services is our denial of access to the venue [by establishing] a checkpoint in South Africa where Peres was hosted,” Patel explained.

He further stated that the closure of the road is unacceptable under the constitution, which allows for the freedom of association and the freedom of expression.

“We do not believe that a South African public road should be closed by private security,” Patel asserted.

There are reports that Peres, during his current visit of South Africa, met with South African activist and politician, Winnie Mandela, an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause.

“We are deeply hurt that an icon of the struggle allowed the hosting of Shimon Peres, a former apartheid spy and accomplice,” Patel stated.

Patel asserts that the protest was effective in “spreading dislike for Peres’ visit.”

Chairperson of Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) South Africa, Mohammed Desai, stated that BDS South Africa commends Jews for Palestine for standing up against the Israeli regime.

Desai further explained that although the protest may have been small, it was in deed symbolic; treading in the footsteps of white anti-Apartheid activists, who during the anti-apartheid movement, fought against the Apartheid regime.

He described the scene at the Convention Centre as being tense and further stated that BDS intends to call for an investigation into the “collusion between private security and the South African Police Services.”

“We cannot have Zionist private security giving instruction to our local authority,” Desai concluded.

VOC (Thakira Desai)

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