More than 2 000 people, including children, were injured.
“I am deeply distressed and brokenhearted by the massacre perpetrated by the State of Israel in Gaza yesterday.
"I pray to God to open the eyes and hearts of all citizens of the Holy Land - and of political and religious leaders in the region and across the world - to assist them to recognise our common humanity and membership of God’s family. People who recognise the humanity in others do not author or perpetrate massacres,” he said.
This as thousands descended on the city for the Great Return March to mark the 70th anniversary of “Nakba”, when thousands of Palestinians were displaced by the creation of the new state of Israel in 1948.
The Muslim Judicial Council SA, with other Islamic organisations and religious leaders from other denominations, headed the march supported by the ANC, represented by its deputy secretary-general, Jessie Duarte. Another march took place in Gauteng.
Duarte said the march was the biggest she had been a part of since the anti-apartheid marches of the 1980s.
“We commend Minister Lindiwe Sisulu for withdrawing the SA ambassador from Israel, but more needs to be done.
"The Israeli ambassador to SA must be expelled as a statement that we will not condone the atrocities taking place in our name.”
She said that SA could not remain friendly in the face of the atrocities and efforts must go beyond just a once-off march.
Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Lindiwe Sisulu announced yesterday that her department was having continuous consultations with President Cyril Ramaphosa on the downgrading of the SA embassy in Israel after recalling the SA ambassador to the country.
ANC MP and former president Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Mandla Mandela, received the memorandum on behalf of Parliament.
He said he had visited Gaza and seen the atrocities first-hand and quoted his grandfather: “Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinian people."