Hundreds of South Africans rallied on Tuesday against Israeli attacks on Palestinians after at least 28 people were killed following clashes over the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
South Africa openly supports the Palestinian cause with formal diplomatic relations established in 1995, a year after the end of apartheid.
Waving the Palestinian green, black, red and white flags, demonstrators marched through the streets of South Africa’s second city Cape Town chanting “Free, free Palestine” and “Down Israel, down” causing traffic jams.
“People are dying, people are being displaced, people are being hurt and people are being treated unfairly, and we had the same thing here in South Africa,” said school teacher Tasneem Saunders.
It “reminds us of the brutality of police ...of the apartheid system that we used to have,” said 56-year-old Kashiefa Achmat.
Similar demonstrations organized by a South African pro-Palestinian movement called Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions were also held in Johannesburg’s rich business district of Sandton.
South Africa is among over 130 countries that recognizes Palestine as a sovereign state, and it downgraded its embassy in Tel Aviv in 2019.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday expressed the governing ANC party’s “condemnation, in the strongest possible terms, of the unlawful evictions of Palestinians from their homes... and the brutal attacks on Palestinian protestors at Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.”
On the Palestinian side, nine children were among at least 26 people killed in the Gaza Strip, and 125 people, while on the Israeli side, rockets killed two women in Ashkelon, sources said.