DA denies politicising Gaza attacks
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Cape Town – The DA has denied pushing a political agenda after messages were exposed in which officials appeared to say the party should be “driving the issue” that Muslim people supported them, in relation to the current conflict where Palestine has been under siege by Israel.
At the weekend, WhatsApp conversations surfaced in which DA members JP Smith and Angus Mckenzie said the DA was supported by Muslims and was not taking blame for what was happening in the Middle East.
The WhatsApp conversation was sent to a media group and subsequently deleted, but comments made by both Mckenzie and Smith were made public online.
“We should all be driving the issue that Muslims are in support of the DA... some context, I’m sorry if I am the one willing to defend the party and not turn a blind eye,” Mckenzie said.
Smith wrote: “I actually think you’re right. The problem is the absent response from all our colleagues. Will work on that and getting especially Muslim colleagues to respond…
“I think we need urgent meeting on this. With Metro Exco and faith-based communities and all Muslim councillors and aspirant councillors and Muslim branch chairs. This week still.”
Probed about their stance, Smith yesterday said: “I agreed that we should get them together to talk. The DA has nothing to do with what happens in Palestine. This is a very evident spin campaign to depict the DA as being in opposition to a group that it totally is not.
“My interest was not in relation to voter support but in relation to the persistent and malicious attacks on our councillors and the crude language being used.’’
Mckenzie said the ANC was attempting to use the Palestinian issue as a voting tool.
“I'm not interested in those games. The messages are quite clear. My response was clear despite the ANC attempt to confuse, the Muslim community has consistently supported the DA.”
Attempts to reach the Muslim Judicial Council yesterday were unsuccessful.
In Gaza yesterday, an Israeli air strike destroyed several homes, killing 42 Palestinians, including 10 children, health officials said, as militants fired rockets at Israel with no end in sight to seven days of fighting.
The Israeli military said the civilian casualties had been unintentional and that it had attacked a tunnel system used by militants, which collapsed, bringing the homes down with it.
As the UN Security Council convened to discuss the worst Israeli-Palestinian violence in years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel's campaign in Hamas Islamist-run Gaza was continuing at "full force".
Netanyahu also defended an Israeli air strike on Saturday that destroyed a 12-storey building where the Associated Press and the Al Jazeera TV network had offices. He said the structure also housed a militant group's intelligence office and was thus a legitimate target.
"We are acting now, (and) for as long as necessary, to restore calm and quiet to you, Israel's citizens. It will take time," Netanyahu said in a televised address after meeting with his security cabinet.
The death toll in Gaza overnight jumped to 188, including 55 children, its health ministry said, amid an intensive Israeli air and artillery barrage since the fighting erupted last Monday. Ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children, according to Israeli authorities.
At the homes destroyed during the Israeli attack in a Gaza neighbourhood early yesterday, Palestinians working to clear rubble from one of the wrecked buildings recovered the bodies of a woman and man.
In New York, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres told the Security Council that hostilities in Israel and Gaza were "utterly appalling" and called for an immediate end to fighting.
He said the UN was "actively engaging all sides toward an immediate ceasefire" and urged them "to allow mediation efforts to intensify and succeed."