Tens of thousands of South Africans marched in Cape Town on Saturday in solidarity with Palestinians living in Gaza, demanding the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador.
The enclave has come under heavy fire from Israel, which declared war on Hamas after it launched a violent cross-border assault on 7 October.
The protestors were led by clergy from several faiths singing “free Palestine,” including anti-apartheid theologian Dr Allan Boesak, who called for the closure of the Israeli embassy.
“That apartheid state that cannot stop murdering the children. For every Palestinian child in a coffin, we say shut it down. Every piece of land stolen from our people in Palestine, shut it down,” he said.
According to Palestinian sources, approximately 11,000 Palestinians have been murdered in Gaza since the commencement of Israel’s conflict, with 40% of them being minors.
According to Israeli officials, over 1,400 individuals, largely civilians, were murdered in Hamas’ raid, during which approximately 240 others were taken captive.
Anjali Kooverjee, a demonstrator, stated that she felt it was her moral obligation to advocate for human rights.
“I believe that any violence toward any person, no matter what race, religion, sexual orientation you are, is completely wrong,” she said, “and what’s happening in Gaza and in Palestine at the moment is a complete violation of human rights.”
The South African government said on Monday that it would return all of its diplomats from Israel in order to express its concern about the situation in Gaza.
The ruling African National Congress has long been a strong backer of the Palestinian cause, frequently tying it to its own campaign against apartheid.
Mandla Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s grandson and Nobel Peace Laureate, took part in the rally.
The ANC calls upon all peace loving South Africans to join the march in Cape Town in solidarity for a free Palestine, and an immediate end to the apartheid Israel occupation.#FreePalestine#EndtheGenocide pic.twitter.com/XHIJXsh84H
— African National Congress (@MYANC) November 10, 2023
Several pro-Palestinian demonstrations have taken place around South Africa in the last month, with President Cyril Ramaphosa among those who have taken part.
The country, which boasts the largest Jewish community in Sub-Saharan Africa, has also seen a number of pro-Israel demonstrations and activities.