There was an air of defiance on Wednesday as Khaled Meshaal, leader of the Palestinian political front Hamas, gave an emotionally charged speech to a crowd of pro-Palestinian supporters at the Darul Islam High School, Surrey Estate. The speech formed part of a ‘welcome rally’ for a delegation of Hamas officials hosted by the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) and Al-Quds Foundation of South Africa.
During his address, the exiled Hamas head brazenly reaffirmed that the ‘intifada and uprisings’ would continue until the liberation of Palestinian lands, as well as the self-determination of the Palestinian people was achieved.
Meshaal said Palestinians had taken to the processes of ‘Ribat’, confining themselves to Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site and the main flashpoint for the current wave of violence, for extended periods of time.
“Those men, women, children and youth are there standing in the defence of Masjid Al-Aqsa on behalf of each and every one of you, and in fact on behalf of the entire humanity,” Meshaal told the gathering via a translator.
He also hailed the efforts of Palestine’s resisters, some barely over the age of 20, for their attempts to foil an Israeli occupation of Al-Aqsa. Meshaal said the Zionist occupation was finding to its amazement that, despite being deprived of weapons and armor, Palestinians were still fighting back against a powerful and armed military force.
Somewhat controversially, he addressed the recent upsurge in reported stabbings by Palestinian youth against Israeli security forces, saying such individuals were acting with the intention of “foiling the attempts of the military of the entity of occupation”.
“We say onto everyone that we meet that Israel started to play with fire when it began to touch Masjid al-Aqsa. This fire which they ignited in the hearts of all our people and nations, it is beginning to consume them in that fire,” he declared.
While everyday Palestinians have taken to the streets and shown unity in their resistance, the states political leadership has been accused of showing a lack of similar uniformity and stability. But Meshaal assured that Hamas would aspire to stand as a united force alongside their political counterparts against the Zionist occupation.
“We expend every effort to ensure that the unity they are showing on the ground, that we shall attain a similar unity at a political level and at the level of diplomacy amongst ourselves,” he stated.
Directing his attention to the youth in attendance, Meshaal advised them to stray clear of violence and extremism. He stressed that issues based on differences in religion or ethnic background need not be resolved through radical means.
This advice was however not relevant to the situation in Palestine, insisting that one need not sit quietly when ones country or faith came under attack.
“Be in support of your faith and country. This was the methodology of your Prophet (PBUH) and his companions. They used to wage war against those who waged war against them, but they dialogued, interacted and discussed their differences amongst one another,” he added.
He concluded by urging Capetonians not to be involved in the normalisation of relations with Israel, particular through visits to, or the purchasing of products from the lands of occupation. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)