Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian supports gathered outside parliament on Saturday, in protest of an Israeli assault on Gaza that has resulted in nearly 1900, mostly civilian casualties. The march, led by the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P), has been dubbed the largest such event in the country since 1994, with 200 000 people attending.
VOC News reporters were caught in the middle of the heaving masses who came out to stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza currently being bombarded with air strikes and ground assaults by the Israeli Defence Force.
The marchers were a cross section of South African demographics, and people from all faiths, races and creeds joined to call on the government to solidify its stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Five deaths on Saturday placed the number of Palestinians who have perished in the conflict at nearly 2000, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.
“This was a protest that crossed the racial and cultural divide with thousands of people from different walks of life: we saw a big contingency from the Jewish community holding placards saying that Judaism does not equal Zionism, members of the Christian faith, the Pakistani community and hundreds of political party and union members. I have really never seen a protest as big as [it was]; some people said it reminded them of the anti apartheid marches pre-1994,” said VOC News editor Tasneem Adams.
But the protest itself called for strong condemnation from South African government on Israel’s assault on Gaza. Demonstrators were united in their fervent view that government needs to be clearer in its stance on Israel.
“The marchers want the South African government to cut economic and diplomatic ties with Israel, and expel Israeli ambassador Arthur Lenk. Many marchers said they are tired of government’s double-speak on this issue; President Jacob Zuma has not strongly condemned Israel for its actions and its human rights violations in the Gaza Strip and has equalised the violence on both sides,” Adams reported.
But while the protestors have made their sentiments clear, even during a recent meet with Chilean president Michelle Bachelet Jeria South African President Jacob Zuma only went so far as to reiterate the presidency’s call for both sides of the conflict to come to an agreement, calling the conflict “concerning”.
Meanwhile across the globe, and especially in South America, other countries have openly cut diplomatic ties with Israel, including Chile and Brazil, who have removed their own Israeli ambassadors. VOC