The Citizen (Gauteng)

SA groups slam Israel


- Eric Naki –

Palestine Solidarity Campaign calls on SA govt to take stronger stance.

South African political parties and civil society groups yesterday lambasted the “brutal violence” and “atrocities” allegedly committed by Israel authoritie­s against Palestinia­ns and the groups called for South Africa to end trade with Israel.

Civil society called on the South African government to take a much stronger stance towards Israel, including stopping trade. Former ANC Cabinet minister Ronnie Kasrils expressed anger at what he termed “ethnic cleansing” and “criminal action” by Israel against the Palestinia­ns in east Jerusalem.

The South African Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Coalition said Pretoria must stop trading with Israel forthwith.

The SA government also expressed deep concern at the continued clashes at Al-Aqsa Mosque where Israeli soldiers attacked Palestinia­n worshipper­s.

At the weekend, the internatio­nal relations and cooperatio­n department condemned the attacks and planned evictions of Palestinia­ns. It said Israel’s action was in “stark violation of internatio­nal law and UN Security Council Resolution­s 446 (1979) and 2334 (2016).

“The latter resolution explicitly calls for an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and the fulfilment of the rights of the Palestinia­n people, including to self-determinat­ion and independen­ce,” the department said.

“These acts are not only illegal but also risk underminin­g the viability of a negotiated twostate solution.”

But yesterday, in a statement issued through its embassy in Pretoria, Israel vowed to “take any action necessary to protect its citizens. It is the right and the duty of every state”.

The violence was sparked when Israeli police raided Al-Aqsa Mosque where Arab people were praying in Jerusalem and evicted Palestine residents last week.

Youths and police have been involved in violent battles for days and internatio­nal condemnati­on of Israel’s action is increasing.

The calls come as political parties in SA condemned the attacks involving the use of rubber bullets, teargas and stun grenades by Israeli police in running battles with the youth for several days.

Al Jama-ah party lashed out at what its parliament­ary leader, Ganief Hendricks, called “aggression” against Palestinia­ns.

“The Al Jama-ah party strongly condemns the brutal violence and atrocities committed against the Palestinia­ns by the apartheid Israeli settler regime.

“Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third largest holiest place of Islam and revered by Muslims throughout the world. The attack on praying Palestinia­ns in the holiest month for Muslims is barbaric and attests to the cowardice of the oppressive Zionist regime,” Hendricks said.

In a statement, the Israel embassy reported that since yesterday Palestinia­n “terrorist organisati­ons” in Gaza have been firing rockets at Jerusalem, other cities and Israeli communitie­s along the border with Gaza.

“Since yesterday, over 200 rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israeli civilians.

“These events are part of a wave of terror that is being led by the terrorist organisati­on Hamas, the Palestinia­n Authority and Palestinia­n Islamic Jihad, and are the result of reckless and irresponsi­ble incitement to violence,” it said.

The embassy accused these organisati­ons of committing another war crime by launching an “indiscrimi­nate attack on a civilian population”. It added: “Israel sought to achieve calm in Jerusalem. We took every measure to prevent conflict or violence.”

It said these included postponing the Supreme Court hearing regarding Sheikh Jarrah, blocking Jews from visiting Temple Mount and cancelling the Flag March.

It also said Israel had acted in a measured manner in response to the rockets and incendiary balloons launched from the Gaza Strip. “We call on the internatio­nal community to condemn the rocket fire and Palestinia­n terrorism targeting Israeli citizens in the strongest manner, as well as to support Israel’s right to self-defence.”

The National Union of Metalworke­rs of SA criticised Israel for its “relentless attacks” on Palestinia­ns.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign staged an impromptu protest and marched to parliament in Cape Town in solidarity with Palestine residents.

The campaign’s representa­tive urged the Ramaphosa government to stand up for the Palestinia­n people and their freedom from Israel like Mandela did.

“We need our leaders to speak up from the top,” said a spokespers­on for the group.

The attack on praying Muslims is barbaric

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