Pro-Palestine activist Braam Hanekom says he is weighing his legal options after being injured in a scuffle with alleged Israeli security personnel on Thursday evening during a protest at Grand West Casino. Hanekom and other activists aligned with the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) protested the inclusion of the Israeli ice hockey team as part of the 2015 Ice Hockey World Chamionship Division II (Group B) taking place in Cape Town’s Grand West ice rink. It was during the protest, Hanekom says, that he and others realized that the Israeli team may have brought security specialists along with them.
“The Israeli ambassador and team appeared to have brought their own security to the venue. And these security personnel from another government, appeared to have been monitoring us from the moment we arrived, they then zoomed in on me, tried to extract me from the venue and claimed they would be arresting me. I’m not sure why it happened, we were protesting and we had a right to do so,” Hanekom said.
He said at some point during the match taking place, an individual or more threw marbles on the rink, stopping the match for 45 minutes while the glass balls were removed.
“We went out there with a plan to disrupt the proceedings and to bring awareness to those that are not aware of the atrocities perpetrated on the defenceless people of Palestine,” added fellow NC4P member Hanif Loonat.
In the process Hanekom was assaulted by security and taken into a corridor at the back of the arena. When Loonat reacted to Hanekom being taken away, he too was taken into custody.
Loonat recalls that he was thrown from the top floor at least 6 rows down, and in the process, hurt his back and arm.
Hanekom was kicked in his ribs and punched in his neck by unidentified security.
“I think these are specially trained members of Mossad, from their appearance and their dressing they could not be identified as members of the Grand West security. They were definitely outside security,” added Loonat.
He said they were there to protect the Israeli ambassador and the hockey players.
He stressed that the NC4P was not there to harm anyone but merely to raise the awareness on the atrocities perpetrated by apartheid Israel on Palestinians, “who are defenceless and who have been victimised by this rogue government of Israel.”
But Hanekom said it was even more important for the protestors to bring the match to a halt.
“But the bigger, and more important story, is that a group of Palestinian solidarity activists were able to interrupt an Israeli ice hockey match. Israel is an apartheid state and we will not allow them to continue as though they have the right to be respected.”
A spokesperson for Grand West could not be reached for comment at the time of publishing. VOC (Andriques Petersen)