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Cape Town police use stun grenades, water cannon as pro-Israel protest disrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters

Cape Town police use stun grenades, water cannon as pro-Israel protest disrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters
Police used stun grenades several times to disperse protesters. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis calls for tolerance, emphasises the right to protest and condemns threat against Jewish school.

A pro-Israeli protest at the Sea Point Promenade in Cape Town on Sunday was disrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters. Buses of protesters in support of Israel were sent away after the police began using stun grenades and water cannon to disperse a group of the counter-protesters for Palestine.

When GroundUp arrived, there was a standoff between protesters and police in riot gear. There was a heavy police presence, with city law enforcement and SAPS officers present before either protest began. Four people were arrested.

protest cape town

Police separate a large group of pro-Palestinian supporters from a small group of pro-Israel supporters. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

protest cape town

Pro-Palestinian protesters raise their flags at the police line. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

protest cape town

Tensions were high. The breaking point came when a pro-Palestine protester (right) tried to remove an Israeli flag from a pro-Israel protester (left). (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

protest cape town

Then things escalated as protesters took their frustrations out on police. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

protest cape town

Police used stun grenades several times to disperse protesters. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

protest cape town

Police also used a water cannon. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

protest cape town

Some protesters were arrested. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

protest cape town

Some protesters were arrested. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

protest cape town

Mandla Mandela attempted to keep matters calm by speaking to the pro-Palestinian protesters. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

protest cape town

Pro-Israeli supporters, one of whom was in a wheelchair, were harassed by the pro-Palestinian supporters. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

Sunday’s clashes followed a massive, but peaceful protest in support of the Palestinian people on Saturday. Tens of thousands of people marched through Cape Town city centre calling for the closure of the Israeli embassy and for the Western Cape government to condemn Israel as it did Russia.

On Sunday, there were only about a hundred pro-Palestinian protesters. A few dozen pro-Israel supporters, mostly from Christian churches, had arrived, but they decided to call off their protest following the clashes.

Reverend Barry Isaacs, a convener of the protest for Israel, said the police were there because of the city, not at their request.

Abeedah Adams, a member of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC), said that unlike other marches for Palestine, the counter-protest had no link to any official organisation. “It was more spontaneous: people responding to the posters and the media about the pro-Israeli protest.”

“I think there’s a very strong sentiment that we can’t allow that kind of Zionism. It’s not welcome in the City of Cape Town,” she said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Israel-Palestine War

Both sides inflamed the situation on Sunday. GroundUp saw one of the pro-Palestinian protesters grab an Israeli flag from a pro-Israel protester. Pro-Israeli protesters also attempted to antagonise the pro-Palestinian protesters. Much shouting ensued and there were some clashes. Police used stun grenades to attempt to disperse the group involved in the scuffle.

A section of the pro-Palestinian crowd shouted down leaders’ calls to step back. Protesters also shouted at the police, comparing them to the apartheid-era police force.

Police had to intervene when a small group of pro-Palestine protesters tried to harass a protester for Israel who was in a wheelchair.

Pepper spray was also used at one point.

This was one of many protests in Cape Town over the past month in response to Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Armed militias from Hamas entered Israel and killed more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and are holding more than 200 people hostage in Gaza. In response, Israel has bombed the Gaza Strip, killing more than 11,000 people, including more than 4,000 children. It has also intensified its years-long blockade of Gaza, often preventing humanitarian aid from reaching the area.

“Our concern is for the innocent Palestinians that have died just as much as the Jewish people,” Isaacs told GroundUp. “We want to pray for peace and to find a solution.”

He called for politicians to find common ground, but said that Israel had a right to defend itself in response to the 7 October attack.

Threat against Jewish school

Meanwhile, the Jewish Board of Deputies published a statement expressing outrage at what it called anti-Semitism by one of the speakers at Saturday’s march. This was in response to one of the speakers saying: “We know where the murderers come from, they come from Herzlia, here in Cape Town.” Herzlia is a Jewish school in Cape Town.

“The right to a decent education in a safe environment is a solemn one, vouchsafed by our Constitution to every child in our country,” the Jewish Board of Deputies statement said.

Mayor calls for tolerance

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis called for tolerance. “Cape Town’s commitment to tolerance and freedom of expression is sacrosanct,” he wrote. “In a time of great global dispute and conflict, Cape Town has thus far been an example of tolerance.”

“While we have seen violent protests all over the world in recent weeks, protests here have been an example of peacefulness, with very few exceptions. As mayor, I have been proud of our city. We have shown restraint, maturity and a commitment to the rights of all residents to express themselves,” he wrote. “I specifically wish to commend the conduct of both those who agree and disagree with [Saturday’s] pro-Palestinian protest for their peaceful conduct.”

“Unfortunately, we saw violent disruptions [on Sunday] against a planned peaceful prayer gathering in support of Israel. This violence deserves the condemnation of all Capetonians who value free expression in our open democracy.”

“While residents or groups may disagree vehemently with one another, they may not engage in violent disruption. We call on all residents to desist from doing so,” Hill-Lewis said. “Every person or group, of every belief and persuasion, has the right to protest peacefully in South Africa.”

“That right is constitutionally protected, and for good reason, because in South Africa’s past, certain protests were banned or violently suppressed, and opinions censored,” he wrote. “In the same way that tens of thousands of residents gathered yesterday to protest peacefully, so the planned protest today should have been respected and allowed to proceed peacefully and without interference.”

Hill-Lewis referred to the comments directed on Saturday against Herzlia: “We also condemn any hate speech uttered by radical minorities at protests, especially when that hate speech is directed towards little children. We have received video footage of a representative … speaking at yesterday’s protest and calling young Jewish children in Cape Town ‘murderers’. Such hateful language should similarly be condemned by all. Radical elements do not speak for Capetonians, and do not even speak for the protestors they claim to represent.” DM

First published by GroundUp.

Disclosure: GroundUp’s editor is an alumnus of Herzlia school.

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • John Lewis says:

    Very much on brand for the pro-Palestine lot!

    • Gareth Searle says:

      yea, painting everyone with the same brush. very much on brand for the fascist lot

      • Ben Harper says:

        I strongly suggest watching Brigette Gabriel’s response to “peaceful majority” on youtube

      • Lucius Casca says:

        The PSC stating that “zionism is not welcome in Cape Town”, that is the hallmark of fascism in case you missed it. Funny how your so called fascists did not violently disrupt the pro-Palestinian protest days earlier.

      • David Mitchley says:

        Think you should read the dictionary definition for fascism.
        If you use some of the grey matter in your head, think you will find that the Iranian regime fits the definition far better than the Israeli government does.
        Do you realize that if the Hamas terrorists laid down their arms and were committed to a peaceful solution that there would be peace in the land of Canaan (to use the area’s original name), but if Israel laid down their arms, we would see the annihilation of the Jews.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      Very sad and very true.

      I have 2 questions to any Palestinian supporters:

      – When you read this article – does it fill you with pride?
      – Do you truly think bullying will make others see your perspective?

  • Ben Harper says:

    Hmm, yes, not suprising! I suppose the pro-palestinian group will try claim victimhood now

  • Denise Smit says:

    Your pictures show all. Anti Jew hatred. Denise Smit

  • Vincent Britz says:

    Don’t be surprised when the war comes knocking on our door in South Africa!! Just like Covid, the war is slowly spreading and world war 3 is on the cards!!

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    So typical of the hysterical, hypocritical and vacuous mob that only sees one side of the violence and the problem. They demand their right to march, threaten, intimidate etc. whilst denying the same to any other. These are the very same people that blindly support Hamas, Iran etc. who persecute/murder their own citizens if they don’t tow the line – there is no dissension, opposition etc.

  • Ben Harper says:

    Amazing how none of the usual Hamas defenders are posting in this article – speaks volumes!

  • Leslie van Minnen says:

    Disgusting behaviour. Is this what they want their children to learn. Do these people represent the ISLAM that is purported to be peace loving. No protests regarding the Muslim led genocide of black Africans in Sudan nor the actions of the Muslims taking part in the civil war. Not sure if I am correct, but was it not Russia who invaded Ukraine and continues to target civilians? Hamas murders and kidnaps children and civilians . Russia murders anyone they like and kidnaps thousands of children.
    I see no condemnation of the lack of human rights in Iran. A country who supports terrorists, murders women for wearing the wrong dress. Perhaps all the supporters of the Palestinians should be a little bit more objective and also try to behave as adults.

  • Alexis Kriel says:

    Trying to silence the Jewish voice by violence and intimidation. They had their march on Saturday.

  • Agf Agf says:

    No surprise whatsoever from the “peaceful religion”. Yeah right!!!

  • blouhemel1 says:

    Please show comments.

  • Ken Shai says:

    That shows DA’s true face as US and Israeli puppet and hopefully it will cost DA big time in 2024 election.

  • Shlomo BenChaim says:

    Unfortunate event. Intolerance is the underbelly of a morally ill society. When certain individuals cannot “use their words” but prefer to violently attack others with a differing opinion, all is lost. Their ’cause’ and any mitigating circumstances thereof is simply relegated to the garbage heap of bad behavior and barbarity There is no pro or against in this fiasco, just people that prefer evil over those that prefer good. Until next time.

  • Estella Mackay says:

    We have fallen into a divisive religious political trap, orchestrated by the ANC, with its own not-so-hidden election agenda in mind.

    Christians and Muslims have co-existed peacefully in Cape Town for centuries. They have inter-married, they observe each other’s cultural and religious festivals, they play in the same teams, they exchange barakat blessings at Eid!

    Why would the ANC government jump on this terrible Isreali/Palestinian bandwagon when in our own country, there is genocide perpetrated against our people by police ineficiency and corruption, endemic assassination of whistle blowers and political office bearers, starvation of the poor as a result of raiding of the state coffers? How dare they even pass judgment on the strife in other countries!

    We condemn the genocide in the Middle East – regardless of its source. We pray for peace. We pray for an end to this war. But above all, we pray that we will not be pitted against each other, in what is a coldblooded attempt by the ANC to hoodwink us into taking sides in their attempt to gain political traction in the Western Cape.

  • Clive Rubin says:

    With reference to the article and the NPA’s apparent decision not to prosecute. I would like to draw your attention to the second photograph featured in the article above

    “Police separate a large group of pro-Palestinian supporters from a small group of pro-Israel supporters. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)”.

    If you look, closely, on the far left is a Hezbollah (Party of God and Lebanese militia) flag with green lettering and AK – 47 symbol. On the far right, the third flag from the end may appear to be either an IS or Islamic Jihad (Black) flag – with possibly other similar, yellow, black and white flags in the center, if so these could possibly represent offensive and proscribed “hate Speech” symbols and potentially, were the holders identifiable, they may be liable for prosecutable offenses related to both, hate speech and lending material support to proscribed terror organizations.

    Will those culprits responsible for flying these flags, be willing to come forward and defend “Free speech” here in Cape Town or anywhere else across the world and accept and equally apply nostrums of “Free Speech” to others?

    By contrast I was not aware of any such “flags raised” at the main ANC sponsored rally on Saturday – though I did not scour the internet thoroughly or specifically.

    Clive Rubin

    “Schoonzicht”
    204 Main Rd
    Kalk Bay 7975
    Cape Town
    Rep. South Africa

    021 788 2173
    ((C 072 721 2557))
    [email protected]

    • Ben Harper says:

      The anc supports Hamas completely to the extent they facilitate the official Hamas office in Fordsburg in Johannesburg, and lets not forget them turning a blind eye to the ISIS training camps right here in good ol SA

  • Eddie B says:

    Ok, so let’s just recap this quickly.

    On Saturday the pro-Palestinians had their peaceful protest. Right? And nobody interfered, provoked or clashed with them? wow

    On Sunday the pro-Israel had their peaceful protest. Right? Except … the Saturday crowd didn’t want any of that and quickly assembled to disrupt it. Pure criminal, pure anti-democratic, pure authoritarian.

    Really sound like an all for peace religion.

    • Ben Harper says:

      And ask the pro palestinian supporters here and they’ll do everything BUT answer the question, instead they’ll trot out their fake news and propoganda

  • Charles Thatcher says:

    Muslim people: Lifelong ambition is hajj to the the Kaaba (the Cube) in Mecca
    Jewish People: L’shana ha’bah b’Yerushalayim (next year in Jerusalem) at Passover

    Fine for the former – “good Muslims”, accepted worldwide.
    Insult to the latter – “bad Zionist Jews” virtually worldwide.

    Double standards in the extreme

  • Paul Gray says:

    The government has made their position clear on who they support. You will find the arrested people will face no charges.
    Also it must be noted that SA has long been turning a bling eye to terrorists being trained in SA for conflicts abroad. Perhaps the Maverick should do an article on that.
    The ANC lest we forget were for decades considered a terrorist organization with bombings and attacks on civilians.
    It makes sense they would support terror, it is in their party history to believe violence is the answer to provoke peace.
    Another poster rightly pointed out, Capetonians have lived in peace for decades with all the religious beliefs but now there is this inflaming of the conflict.
    To what end? Destabilize the Western Cape – elections are around the corner.

  • Hilary Morris says:

    I remember some decades ago, driving down Roeland St towards parliament, there were two protests happening simultaneously. One group had Israeli flags which they waved enthusiastically. Standing right next to them, no more than a metre away was a group of Palestinian supporters, waving their own flags just as enthusiastically. The scene was so special, I stopped to take a picture. They were all just South Africans with different views and values and that was ok.
    What is happening now, just adds fuel to the flames of hatred, and generally it is less comfortable to be just South African. It is often shameful. However, we as citizens have enough to deal with without adding hatred of each other. There are more than enough problems. Everyone is right from their own perspective. Lets all try for a view that says this is a major tragedy, for both palestinians and jews. The way to help cannot possibly be by hating each other and increasing our already violent society.

  • Steve Daniel says:

    The behavior alone should tell you – certainly tells me.
    “By their WORKS you shall know them.”

  • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

    Anti-Zionism is the new antisemitism. It’s clearly been seen and heard. Unfortunately, Jewish history has seen and heard this exactly, too many times before. Fortunately, we know how it all ends. May it be speedily and without further loss of life (including those on the wrong side of this – not only these antisemites in Cape Town, but the millions of others raising their ugly heads worldwide).

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