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Boesak, Mbalula, Mandla Mandela call for closure of Israeli embassy

Thousands of people protested in Cape Town against the war in the Gaza Strip. Picture: Tracey Adams / IOL News

Thousands of people protested in Cape Town against the war in the Gaza Strip. Picture: Tracey Adams / IOL News

Published Nov 12, 2023

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Anti-apartheid activist Allan Boesak, ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula and party MP Mandla Mandela have called on the government to shut down the Israeli embassy in South Africa.

They said the decision by government to recall all its diplomats from Tel Aviv was not enough, and they want the Israel embassy in South Africa to be closed.

Mandla Mandela also said government must expel Israeli ambassador Eliav Belotsercovksy.

This followed the démarche issued to Belotsercovsky this week by Department of International Relations Director-General Zane Dangor, following his remarks about the conflict in Gaza.

Boesak, Mbalula and Mandela joined thousands of people in Cape Town earlier today to protest against the conflict in Palestine, where more than 10 000 people have been killed.

Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni this week warned that any South African who joined the Israeli army in the conflict will be charged in terms of the Foreign Military Assistance Act.

She said the State Security Agency was monitoring the situation in the Gaza Strip.

Boesak said they want the government to shut down the Israeli embassy.

“What we demand is very clear. Our demand can be said in three words, ‘shut it down’. We did not come here to beg today. We will not stop speaking until it is shut down. We will not stop marching until it is shut down,” said Boesak.

He said Israel has been persecuting the people of Palestine for decades.

He said what was happening in Gaza was genocide.

Mbalula also said the war in Palestine must stop.

“Our government has shown a sense of movement. We are saying, President Ramaphosa we appreciate it, but you must move faster. The embassy of Israel must close down,” said Mbalula.

Mandela also said they condemned attacks on civilians by the Israeli army.

He said they believe the recall of diplomatic staff by the department of international relations for consultation was not enough. They want government to cut all ties with Israel, and this included shutting down the Israeli embassy and expelling Belotsercovsky.

“We are gathered here to give meaning to [the words of the] founding father of our nascent democracy, president Rolihlahla Mandela, when he said in 1995 to the people of Gaza, ‘our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians’.

“We want to say to the people of Cape Town you are upholding that legacy. We are here to send a clear message, as we gather here in Cape Town, we appreciate the steps and the diplomacy that is being undertaken by our ANC-led government. The secretary-general of the ANC, Fikile Mbalula, says our government must act fast. We have to give meaning to what we mean by acting fast. Comrade president, we did not ask for the consultation process, we asked for the embassy of Israel to be shut down now.

“As we are gathered here we say the embassy must be shut down now. We do not want consultation processes and every South African to be called back from apartheid Israel,” said Mandela.

“Dirco has released a letter of démarche [given] to the apartheid state of Israel’s ambassador. We are saying to Dirco that is not enough. We want the Israeli ambassador expelled from South Africa immediately,” he said.

The march in Cape Town comes as the war continues to rage in Gaza.

Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor has called for the International Criminal Court to charge Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his senior government officials for war crimes.

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