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Police investigate defaced Palestinian billboard

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Police are investigating who is behind the defacing of an Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) billboard over the weekend. The billboard is one of two that face each other and is situated directly across from the O.R Tambo International Airport. After being informed by an IAW supporter about the defacing of the billboard, IAW members inspected the board and discovered black paint strewn over parts of the board.

The billboard advertises IAW week, indicating the date below a picture of the Israeli wall. Centred in the advertisement are two children holding a Palestinian flag atop a pile of guns as doves fly overhead. Situated on the N12, the location of the billboard being in close proximity to the OR Tambo airport was chosen to maximise the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctioning of Israel.

The national spokesperson of IAW in South Africa, Alex Mdakane, said a case of malicious damage to property was opened at the Kempton Park police station. While the group has its suspicions on whom the perpetrators may be, he says that at this stage in the investigation no allegations can be made.

“What happened a year ago, the Israeli group took us to court, they tried to remove our billboards using a court application, but the court found in our favour that should the court allow the Zionist lobby group to remove our billboards, they would be encroaching on our right to freedom of speech and expression – so we don’t know if this is part of those tactics,” Mdakane stated.

Given the height of the billboard and the type of the paint that was used to deface it, Mdakane describes the incident as “well-orchestrated and premeditated”.

“We know that the highways around Johannesburg have got surveillance cameras installed almost at every point, so we are hoping that there will be footage that the police will obtain,” he elaborated.

Commenting on IAW 2017, Mdakane notes that the marking of the event has made strides with the largest number of programmes around the country – a record 260-plus IAW programmes.

“The Israeli groups are feeling it; yesterday I was in a one hour conversation where a person was asking if I am aware that I – as a black person – am being used and black people are being used…if I am being used, then were the Jewish people that were fighting for the liberation of South Africa also being use?”

He says that despite the defacing of the billboards and assertions made by Zionists and Zionist sympathises about ‘black’ people’s support of the Palestinian cause, the resolve for a free Palestine will continue.

Meanwhile, representative of the billboard media advertising agency, Prince Zulu, said he is disappointed by the reaction of certain individuals for having defaced the advertisement, describing the incident as “utter disrespect”.

“Personally, this was one of my first clients in the Ekurhuleni area. I was also proud, in the year that we are celebrating Oliver Tambo, to be associated with this billboard near to OR Tambo Airport as the Palestinian cause is in line with the principles that Tambo the man stood for,” Zulu said in the IAW press statement. VOC

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