Durbanites took to the streets of Berea to voice their concerns about the war between Israel and Palestine in the Middle East on Wednesday.
Hundreds of people waved flags, held placards and punched the air chanting “Free Palestine”.
According to reports, by Wednesday afternoon the death toll in Gaza and the West Bank had reached close to 600 with more than 2900 Palestinians injured. More than 123 000 people in Gaza have been displaced from their homes. This occurred during the aerial bombardment of Gaza by the Israeli Air Force in retaliation to an incursion by Hamas on Saturday morning that left scores of Israelis dead and others captured.
According to a BBC report, the Israeli Air Force claimed to have hit 2500 targets as part of its fight-back. According to Qatar-based cable news network Al Jazeera Israeli officials said Hamas killed 86 of its soldiers and more than 200 during a party in the desert near Gaza.
A member of the People Against Oppression (PAO) and one of the march organisers, Ahmed Hansa, has slammed America for the ongoing war in Gaza.
“One of the challenges is that we have the United Nations but the big players like America every time there are resolutions against the state of Israel for the crimes they are committing they won't adhere to those resolutions. Instead, they use United Nations powers. America always voting against the decision taken by UN to resolve this. The sad thing is that no one can touch Israel,’’ said Hansa.
Hansa said through this march they wanted to stand up for the people of Palestine in Gaza against innocent people, women and children being killed.
“Yet we have the mightiest army of the world which is Israel and America trying to steal their land. This is totally unacceptable. As Nelson Mandela said, we will never be free until the people of Palestine are free,’’ he said.
Hansa further said that America has been supporting Israel to the tune of about $10 million a day over the past years.
“They even just announced now that they will assist them with 8 billion dollars. Just to fight a handful of people which is a small population in Gaza. They blocked everything – electricity – including the military from coming in. So people are trapped, they can’t even escape,” said Hansa.
Parliamentary leader of NFP Ahmed Munzoor Shaik Emam, who also took part in the march, has called upon all South Africans to be in solidarity with Palestine.
“We know and understand better than anyone how apartheid feels and how (it feels) to be taken away from your homes. Yesterday I had lengthy discussions with the office of the South African Palestine embassy including our representatives in Palestine. Things are not looking good on the ground in Gaza,” said Ahmed.
Unisa academic Dr Thabisi Hoeane said reality has set in “as the chickens have come home to roost” in the Middle East conflict, after the latest flare-up of violence. Hoeane said both sides of the war – Hamas and Israel – were committing despicable war crimes which should be squarely blamed on the so-called international community which has patently ignored this conflict which has gone on for decades.
“The world allowed this situation to fester. For the West, led by America, it has unashamedly over the years supported Israel in denying Palestinians their human rights. This is exactly why, because of this collective amnesia in the West, people have thought that the Middle East Conflict is just a ‘terrorist’ irritant in the mould of the fight against Isis. This is not a military problem but a deeply political and social one where two groups of people are contesting the right to the same land,” Hoeane said.
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