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South Africa: Hundreds of People Join Pro-Palestinian March in Johannesburg

Members of South African political parties, civil society organisations and other supporters marched through the streets of Johannesburg on Wednesday demanding a permanent cease-fire in Gaza as they marked the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Rival political parties including the ruling African National Congress and the leftist opposition Economic Freedom Fighters were among the scores of demonstrators who marched across the Nelson Mandela Bridge to protest against Israel’s military offensive in Gaza against Hamas.

Several other protests were planned around South Africa, where many including President Cyril Ramaphosa have compared Israel’s policies in Gaza and the West Bank with South Africa’s past apartheid regime of racial segregation.

Veteran anti-apartheid activist Ronnie Kasrils called for the boycott and isolation of Israel over the current war. “All over the world, millions and millions are coming out and saying no, no, no. We will boycott and isolate Israel until it hurts them, and we stand by the Palestinian people fully, in our total support,” Kasrils told the crowd.

Fickle Mbalula, African National Congress Secretary-General called out the Israeli prime minister with allegations of killing babies. “Like (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu, who’s killing children, who’s bombing hospitals, who’s bombing refugee camps. Comrades, we are here today moved by the camaraderie and the spirit of unity among us. We as the ANC (African National Congress), we have said to our government, we have joined political parties in parliament, calling for the closure of the Israeli embassy.”

Last week, a majority of South African lawmakers voted in favor of a motion calling for the closure of Israel’s embassy and the suspension of diplomatic relations.

It came after Israel recalled its ambassador to South Africa following remarks by South African leaders who accused Israel of committing genocide and referred Israel’s attacks on Gaza to the International Criminal Court.

“We are doing our intense human duty as people did with South Africa when we as black people were oppressed, people showed solidarity with us” Mohamed Shaahid Mathee, one of the protesters said. “And this is the human imperative duty to show solidarity and to support the cry of the oppressed people in the world” Mathee added.

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