An estimated 5000 pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets of Cape Town at the International Al Quds Day March on Friday, braving the cold and wet weather to show their support for the people of Palestine. The crowd moved from Keizergracht Street in District Six and proceeded to Parliament where a memorandum was handed over. The memorandum called on government to take a solid stance against the Occupation of Palestine. It called for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador and also urged the protesters to boycott local stores which stock products manufactured in the occupied territories of Palestine.
While majority of the support seen at the protest were from the local Muslim community, the issue goes far beyond that of a singular religious belief, were the sentiments of some protesters. During the march, the Israeli flag was seen torched along with chants of condemnation. Muslim women donned the head scarf in the colours of the Palestinian flag, while little children stood at the front, calling on peace in a land which they say is the place where too many innocent children are dying.
“I saw on the news that children my own age are dying as bombs are hitting their homes. I am here today, with my parents because I think that those deaths should be stopped. No more children should die,” a young Ismail Cassiem told VOC News as he marched to Parliament.
Aunty Rushda, whose voice had become hoarse as her chants grew loader and loader, said she will not rest or stop taking action until the South African government recognises Israel as a country guilty of committing war crimes and further end all relations.
“We cannot sit at home and live our lives while our brothers and sisters are being tormented day in and day out. Their daily lives have changed. Imagine living each day with the fear that it may be your last,” Aunty Rushda cried.
Palestinian solidarity protests took place in nine other provinces all across the country, with Durban drawing a 50 000 strong crowd.
“The entire nation is standing behind the people in Gaza, why can’t our own government do the same? They talk a big game but we have yet to see the Ambassador Lenk leave the country. If his country is killing Palestine, they are killing South Africa,” a distraught Faried Gafieldien said.
Chants of hatred toward Zionism and Israel echoed through the streets of the Mother City. A build up of frustration could be sensed as the protesters marched.
Ibtishaam Alexander said this march comes at a time when people have had enough and can take no more.
“We want to do more. I am here with all my friends and family. We have to do something to help the people of Palestine. If we don’t, we are then taking the side of the oppressors,” Alexander added.
On the 18th day of Operation Protective Edge on Friday, the Israeli military have killed over 800 Palestinians. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)