South African opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters’ held Monday (Oct. 23) a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Pretoria.
Crowds gathered in front of the Israeli Embassy as Julius Malema, renewed calls for the closure of the embassy and urged retailers to stop selling Israeli goods.
Monday marked the 17th day of the latest Israel-Hamas war that has left thousands of dead.
“When you are oppressed, the only option you have is to fight, and that’s what Hamas is doing”, Malema said.
“They are fighting for their freedom, Mandela did the same thing, took up the guns and fought for the freedom of the people of South Africa, when you are oppressed, you only have one option.”
What is Hamas?
The group was founded in 1987 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a Palestinian refugee living in Gaza, during the first intifada, or uprising, which was marked by widespread protests against Israel’s occupation.
Hamas is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement, and a recognition of the group’s roots and early ties to one of the Sunni world’s most prominent groups, the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in the 1920s.
Hamas won 2006 parliamentary elections elections and in 2007 violently seized control of the Gaza Strip from the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority, dominated by rival Fatah movement, administers semi-autonomous areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Israel responded to the Hamas takeover with a blockade on Gaza, restricting movement of people and goods in and out of the territory, which earned the strip the name of “open-air prison”.
The blockade has ravaged Gaza’s economy, and Palestinians accuse Israel of collective punishment. Israel says the step is needed to keep the group from developing weapons.
Hamas which has espoused violence as a means to liberate occupied Palestinian territories launched a deadly incursion on October 7.
In retaliation, Israel pummeled the Gaza Strip with airstrikes that have killed thousands of civilians.
“Israel has to be stopped so that when an agreement is reached , of two state solution, they are committed to it, and they will not continue to expand their territories into Palestinian’s territory illegally,” Julius Malema said.
The ruling (ANC) held a similar picket outside Israel’s embassy on Friday (Oct. 20).
President Cyril Ramaphosa called Saturday (Oct. 21) for a United Nations-led negotiation process towards resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, when speaking at the Gaza peace summit in Egypt.
“We call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, the release of hostages, the lifting of the siege of Gaza, opening of humanitarian corridors and the urgent provision of humanitarian aid on the required scale to the people of Gaza,”he said.
A wave of pro-Palestinian demonstrations have swept across North Africa in recent days in response to the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through a rainy London on Saturday (Oct. 21) to demand Israel stop its bombardment of Gaza, and similar calls were heard in cities around the world
The war has raised tensions around the world, with both Jewish and Muslim communities feeling under threat.
Israel continued to bombard targets in Gaza on Saturday (Oct. 21) ahead of an expected ground offensive. A small measure of relief came when 20 trucks carrying humanitarian aid were allowed to enter Gaza across the southern Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
Additional sources • IOL