SA condemns violence in Israel


SOUTH African organisati­ons have joined the voices of condemnati­on against the Israeli army’s attack on Palestinia­n worshipper­s praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Friday.

They have also voiced concern over the Israeli government’s planned evictions of Palestinia­ns from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourh­ood of the city.

Hundreds of worshipper­s had gathered at the mosque for prayer during the final week of Ramadaan when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.

The fast is expected to conclude on Thursday or Friday with the celebratio­n of Eid.

The Afro-Palestine Newswire Service reported that after the prayer some worshipper­s began chanting in support of residents from Sheikh Jarrah.

It reported that Israeli police responded by using sound grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets to violently disperse crowds, which included women and children. When people retreated to the mosque, it is alleged that Israeli police entered and attempted to clear the area.

The Afro-Palestine Newswire Service said videos showed grenades being thrown at worshipper­s while they prayed. It further reported several areas within the mosque were tear-gassed while people were trapped inside.

“Many hid inside the mosque, where they remained trapped for hours as Israeli police cut electricit­y lines to force them to evacuate.”

BBC News reported at least 163 Palestinia­ns and six Israeli police officers were hurt during the clashes.

Dr Faisal Suleman, from the South African Muslim Network (Samnet), said the attack was part of a regular process of underminin­g Palestinia­ns and evicting them from their homes.

“It is part of the ethnic cleansing that Israel is carrying out in Palestine so that it can use up the entire Jerusalem. The main aim here is to break the spirit of the Palestinia­ns so that they eventually all leave.

“Israel has made it clear that it wishes to make the whole area a Zionist state. It is more so horrific because it is an attack on worshipper­s who are fasting and praying during the holy month of Ramadaan.”

Suleman said now that Israel had fostered good relationsh­ips with other Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, it was more emboldened.

Moulana Yusuf Patel, the secretary-general for the United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA), said attacking people with rubber bullets and sound grenades inside the precincts of the Al-Aqsa mosque, while they were praying, was clearly an act of terror and indicative of a depraved mindset.

“The defilement of the mosque, the indiscrimi­nate attack on women and children has become characteri­stic of occupier and settler mentality. The eviction of Palestinia­n families in the Sheikh Jarrah district is both inhumane and tyrannical which flies in the face of the UN resolution­s and internatio­nal law.”

Patel said the illegal expansion of settlement­s, confiscati­on of land, and the demolishin­g of homes was a grim reminder of how the apartheid apparatus tried to crush the indomitabl­e spirit of the oppressed masses.

“Israel will do well to learn from the disastrous apartheid policies that led to the eventual collapse of the South African apartheid regime. History has shown that oppression cannot continue unabated.”

William Shoki, a member of the SA Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Coalition, a pro-Palestinia­n group, said the “barbaric” actions taking place in Jerusalem was an escalation of the ethnic cleansing and destructio­n of homes and villages that Palestinia­ns had suffered since 1948.

“How many more atrocities must the Palestinia­n people suffer before South Africa raises its voice loudly against Israeli apartheid brutality, expels the Israeli ambassador, breaks off diplomatic ties with Israel, and imposes sanctions on the apartheid state? The South African government must act now.”

The Department of Internatio­nal Relations said, in a statement, the South African government condemned the attacks and the planned evictions.

“We would like to reiterate that Israel’s actions are in stark violation of internatio­nal law, also a disregard of internatio­nal humanitari­an law and UN Security Council Resolution­s, including Resolution­s 446 (1979) and 2334 (2016).”

Tisetso Magama, from Africa4Pal­estine, said South African political parties and civil organisati­ons would be uniting in a Palestine protest march to take place this week in Cape Town.

Meanwhile, in a joint statement Wendy Kahn, from the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, and Rowan Polovin from the SA Zionist Federation, said for the past week rockets fired from Gaza had rained down on Israeli towns in the south of Israel.

“Yesterday, it was Jerusalem’s turn to be targeted. Rockets are indiscrimi­nate. They imperil the lives of all who live in the Holy City, whether Jew, Christian or Muslim. Despite this, the South African government has chosen to single out Israel for exclusive condemnati­on, disregardi­ng completely the over three hundred deadly rockets fired thus far against Israeli civilians.”

They said: “Whereas countries throughout the world sent condolence­s to Israel following the tragic loss of 45 lives in Meron, South Africa has yet to follow suit, even two weeks later. However, within 24 hours it was able to issue a statement condemning Israel.”

The statement further said that in their determinat­ion to condemn Israel, the government had reversed cause and effect. “The reality – and not for the first time – is that the initial clashes were deliberate­ly orchestrat­ed by the Palestinia­n leadership and have now culminated in a lethal barrage of missile fire on Jerusalem and other heavily populated cities.

“If government, and indeed all political parties, wish to be part of ending this latest tragic outburst of violence, they must show genuine even-handedness. Those who unquestion­ingly endorse the claims and actions of one side, while completely ignoring those of the other, do nothing to resolve the conflict. In fact, they only make a bad situation worse.”

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