JOHANNESBURG – A picket and protest was held outside the US Consulate in Sandton, Johannesburg, by various civil rights groups comprising the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA), on Tuesday to protest the killing of over 60 Palestinians, and the wounding of over 2,400 more on the Israel-Gaza border on Monday by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).
The Palestinians were gunned down as they protested a decision by the US to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and called for a right to return to their homes in Israel from which they either fled or were expelled in 1948 when the state of Israel was established.
The protesters waved Palestinian flags, held banners condemning the carnage and singing and chanted in support of Palestinian rights, to hoots of approval from passing motorists.
“We are protesting the crimes, atrocities and human rights abuses that have been committed against the Palestinians,” Shireen Saloojee one of the organisers from the PSA told the African New Agency (ANA).
“As ordinary human beings we can’t be silent and we condemn the international community and the Arab governments for their complicty by remaining silent,” said Saloojee.
Tim Fish, 31, Jewish, and a human rights lawyer who took part told ANA that he had family in both Israel and South Africa who supported Israel and that his opposition to Israeli policies had been the subject of many heated debates in his family and a polarising issue.
“I don’t see why it’s necessary to explain why we oppose the massacre of Palestinians,” said Fish.
After the vigil the protesters headed towards the US Consulate’s consular section to deliver a memo registering their displeasure with American policy.
“American officials refused to come out and take the memo because they said we posed a security threat,” said Saloojee “so we delivered it personally accompanied by police”.
The memorandum served to notify the government of the United States that “we the people of South Africa and the representatives of civil society, the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) and advocacy rights groups reject any moves relating to the alteration of the internationalised status of Jerusalem”.
“Under no circumstances shall Palestinians and the international community accept such an arbitrary unilateral decision announced by Trump to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“Never shall we ever accept and/or acquiesce to any alteration to the moral, cultural and religious demographic identity of the holy city of Jerusalem which has been custodian to the monotheistic Abrahamic faiths for centuries.
"The sanctity of the holy city of Jerusalem is paramount to us all. The illegal process of Judaisation (De-Christianisation etc) of Jerusalem through discriminatory practices and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians must immediately cease and be reversed in its entirety in order to restore the status quo of Palestinian sovereignty in accordance with international law.
"As international law dictates, we demand the immediate cessation of grave violations of Palestinian human rights in Jerusalem and the occupied territories by the perpetration of criminal offences by the Israeli apartheid regime and its settlers alike which include inter alia: home demolitions, forcible displacement, extra judicial killings, torture, arbitrary detention and home confinement of Palestinian children, which have all been used as weapons of war, psychological warfare and instruments of systemic apartheid,” read part of the memo.
African News Agency/ANA