Several South African political parties put aside their differences to mark the International Day of Solidarity for Palestinians in Johannesburg today. Together with pro-Palestinian civil society organisations they marched from the Mary Fritzgerald Square to the Nelson Mandela Bridge several kilometres away in the Central Business District.
The day is commemorated annually by the United Nations and this year takes place as Israel and Palestinian group Hamas are engaged in a conflict that began on 7 October.
The Johannesburg march takes place under the theme “Unite Against Genocide, Ceasefire Now”. Several hundred supporters congregated at the Mary Fritzgerald Square on Wednesday morning, their black, white and red, white keffiyehs flapping in the warm Johannesburg breeze.
Brandishing pro-Palestinian placards and the black, white, green and red striped flags they called for a ceasefire to the current fighting and a long-term solution to the decades-old political crisis between Israel and the Palestinians.
Amongst the political parties in attendance was the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which last week successfully sponsored a motion in Parliament for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador to South Africa.
“We are united against inhuman behaviour that is happening in Palestine, it is not about political affiliation and our ideological differences, today is about the children of Palestine, it is about the women, it is about the more than 50 journalists that have been killed in Israel,” says EFF’s Gauteng Secretary-General Moshe Koma.
The current pause in fighting in Gaza has been welcomed by the protestors. Besides Parliament’s motion, President Cyril Ramaphosa, together with a number of countries, referred Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the International Criminal Court for his arrest to be expedited.
The African National Congress’ Gauteng Provincial Secretary TK Nciza says the governing party has always championed the Palestinian cause and welcomed a number of the country’s other political parties putting their differences aside for a common cause.
“We always put and stand with those who are oppressed, if a motion comes in Parliament and we agree with it we are not going to stand against it because it is brought by any other party, we are not that organisation, we are an organisation that believes that people must be free. They must be able to express themselves, there must be freedom. We stand with the oppressed, so we commend all the political parties that are here as long as this will benefit the people of Palestine, we don’t believe in unnecessary divisions.
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