Maverick Citizen

MIDDLE EAST CRISIS

Hundreds march in Joburg in solidarity with Palestinians embroiled in bloody conflict with Israel

Hundreds march in Joburg in solidarity with Palestinians embroiled in bloody conflict with Israel
A protester holds up smoke flares at Nelson Mandela bridge during a march on International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

People marched through the Johannesburg CBD in solidarity with the people of Palestine on Wednesday. Many called for a permanent ceasefire and unrestricted access to aid.

In light of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, hundreds of people marched through the Johannesburg CBD on Wednesday, calling for a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. 

The march started at the Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, paused at Nelson Mandela Bridge, and ended at Constitution Hill with many people demanding an end to what’s been described as genocide, an occupation, settler colonialism, and ‘Israeli apartheid’. 

The demonstration was organised by the South African Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Coalition, South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), and Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), with the support of over 40 organisations including South African Jews for a Free Palestine (SAJFP), Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) and Health Care Workers for Palestine.

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is marked with a march from Mary Fitzgerald Square to Nelson Mandela Bridge, before reaching Constitutional Hill. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

On 7 October, armed militias from Hamas entered Israel and killed over 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took over 200 hostages. In retaliation, Israeli airstrikes have pummeled Gaza, with over 14,000 civilians estimated to have been killed, of which at least 5,800 are children. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Middle East Crisis news hub

On 24 November, Israel and Hamas agreed to a four-day pause in fighting which was extended by two days on 27 November. During the period of truce, Hamas has released 69 captives in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons and more humanitarian aid allowed into Gaza, according to Al Jazeera

The heads of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Israel’s Mossad met in Qatar on Tuesday to discuss the extension of a truce between Israel and Hamas as well as the captives being held by the Palestinian group in Gaza. 

TK Nciza, Fikile Mbalula and David Makhura

TK Nciza, Fikile Mbalula and David Makhura at Nelson Mandela Bridge, standing in solidarity with people from Palestine. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Activist Maya Bhardwaj said a temporary ceasefire was not enough. “The power of the Zionist state and the occupation of Palestine continues, so we are here to show solidarity with the ongoing fight,” she said. 

Bhardwaj said that the parliamentary resolution to cut SA’s diplomatic relations with Israel needed to be finalised. 

On 21 November, parliament passed an amended resolution brought by the EFF, calling upon the government to close the Israeli Embassy in South Africa and suspend all diplomatic ties “until a ceasefire is agreed to by Israel and Israel commits to binding United Nations-facilitated negotiations whose outcome must be a just sustainable and lasting peace”.

Any decision on severing relations with Israel would have to be made by the Cabinet, which was due to meet again on Wednesday 29 November. 

Palestine flag

Activists holding a giant flag of Palestine during a solidarity march in Johannesburg. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

A human rights issue

Rina King, from SAJFP, said what is occurring in Palestine is a human rights issue, and an issue of forced removal, oppression and occupation. “As a Jewish person, I value life and I see that the Palestinians have been disposed of their land since 1948 and that’s the problem,” she said.  King said that Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, intends to continue what she described as genocide and that pressure and solidarity with the people of Palestine was needed. 

Joburg protester, Palestinians

Fébé Potgieter-Gqubule holds a poster at Nelson Mandela Bridge in solidarity with people from Palestine. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

“As we speak, about 20 villages have had people chased off their land in the West Bank and that’s got nothing to do with Hamas,” she said.  King said what is happening in Palestine is an apartheid system. “Palestinians are discriminated against and oppressed and unless we stand up and support them, the Israeli government will not change,” she said.  “It’s not a Jewish issue, it is a human rights issue.”

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People march

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People march weaves its way across Johannesburg CBD. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Permanent ceasefire needed 

Roshan Dadoo, from SA BDS Coalition, said they were calling for a permanent ceasefire and for unrestrained humanitarian aid to come into Gaza. “We are saying this is not enough. You can’t pause a genocide and then continue again as Netanyahu has declared his intentions to continue the bombarded of Gaza and we have seen incidents where occupation forces have continued despite this temporary pause,” she said. 

Dadoo said that they wanted to see a possibility for Palestinians to return to their homes.  “We want justice for the atrocities that are being committed, not just now although this is so clearly the worst, but from 1947 when people were massacred, villages were destroyed and Palestinians were forced into excel during that time,” she said. 

Joburg protesters, Palestinians

Protesters marching through Johannesburg CBD. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

A public health and mental health crisis

Dr Sandra Fernandes, a specialist neuropsychiatrist, spoke about the 247 healthcare workers who have been killed since 7 October. “We are here today to say that our own horror and trauma of what we are witnessing daily in Gaza, cannot compare to the severe trauma experienced by those inside Gaza,” she said. 

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People protest

Protesters march through Johannesburg on International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

As half of the population is under the age of 15 or 17, generational trauma will be expressed for years to come, with many people experiencing psychological long-term effects such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other conditions, according to Fernandes. “What will unfold in the coming days and weeks will be a diary of diseases and other physical diseases as a result of poor drinking water and the lack of proper nutrition, despite some of the aid entering Gaza,” she said. 

Joburg march, Palestinians

A protester holds a poster at Nelson Mandela Bridge. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

“This is a public health care. It is a mental health crisis”. 

Fernandes called for a permanent ceasefire,  sustained and unrestricted access to humanitarian aid, an immediate cessation of the siege, and targeting of healthcare facilities, schools, public areas, and free movement of healthcare workers to all affected areas. 

Joburg protest

A protester holds a sign during the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People march. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

On this day in 1947

29 November is the date that the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the partition of Palestine in 1947. Resolution 181 called for the creation of an Arab state and a Jewish state but was never implemented on the ground.  The date is also the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, an official observance adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1997. DM

Ronnie Kasrils

Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils speaks to protesters at Mary Fitzgerald Square. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

    Ronnie Kasrils. If I’m a Palestinian I’m thinking – can I really trust this old Jewish guy? He looks sweet, buuuut ….

  • Mkulu Isizulumhlopi says:

    Hundreds not Thousands not millions! There are over 60 million South African Citizens, many of whole are Christians, the largest church being the Church of Zion.
    The ANC and this rent a crowd do not align with the thinking of the majority of South Africans.
    Curse Israel and God will curse you!

  • Samuel Ginsberg says:

    They want a ceasefire? Like they had on 6th of October?

  • Rael Chai says:

    Amazing how South Africans choose priorities. Stage 6 loadshedding, crime out of control, joblessness, infrastructure failing, healthcare in crisis but no, lets march in support of a people living 10 000km away who are holding innocent women, children and babies as hostages and just carried out a massacre in Israel. Priorities people…

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    My spidey sense says a good few of the people there were actually marching in celebration of the largest slaughter of Jews since the Holcaust.

    • John P says:

      Your spidey sense seems to be jumping to unsubstantiated conclusions again.

      • Middle aged Mike says:

        Same as it did when the people ‘marching in support of Palestine’ in Sydney and London were chanting ‘gas the jews’. You can look the other way on this stuff as hard as you like but it doesn’t make it go away. There is clearly a significant number of holocaust enthusiasts and more than few can be found at marches waving Palestinian flags and masking their faces with keffiyeh.

        • Rael Chai says:

          100% they may as well be saying “From the river to the sea Palestine will be Judenrein”

        • John P says:

          The news reports on these marches all point to a “tiny” or “small” section of the protest chanting this vile statement. This is in-excusable hate speech but not the “celebration of the largest slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust” that you imply. It also does not mean that any of those taking part in the Jhb held these same views.

          • Middle aged Mike says:

            Yeah, the same kinds of news reports that described the Floyd riots as ‘mostly peaceful’. There is a fair bit of spin in some parts of the media on topics such as this. Oh there’s plenty of celebration and there’s ample video evidence of it all over the world.

  • John P says:

    Whilst I am against the war and killings in Israel and Gaza and believe that an equitable and peaceful solution must be found for all parties I cannot support the behavior of the ANC and partners taking part in this small demonstration.

    Surely it is time they looked to solve the problems of their own creation within South Africa before they attempt to influence politics in other parts of the world.

  • Political gimmick distracting from crushing domestic problems

    • Chris Orr says:

      So true! South Africans need to get their priorities right. Get rid of this appalling ANC government and let the people of SA progress economically.

  • Abram Bonakele says:

    We don’t need war when is going to stop, Hamad, Israel, palatine, world leaders please let be ceasefire, watching news this days is difficult because it’s all about war in Middle East

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