28 November 2023

[Photo source - Al Jazeera]

The ANC Government has been accused of “diplomatic cowardice” for not taking drastic punitive actions against Israel, writes Nabeelah Shaikh.

South African politicians and organisations have strongly condemned Israel’s latest terror attacks on worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Palestine with calls on mainly African governments to immediately suspend all trade with the Zionist apartheid state.

Last week, Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem as they fired stun grenades and tear gas at Palestinian worshippers during a violent raid on Islam’s third holiest site during the holy month of Ramadan. 

Dozens of worshipers who were spending the night praying were injured in the police raid.

Al-Qalam sought local reaction to the Al-Aqsa Mosque attack by the Zionist terror state.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) strongly condemned the attack and called on the Government shut down the Israeli Embassy in the country.

 “The Apartheid State of Israel relentlessly flaunts its gross human rights violations against Palestinians with impunity. We call on all governments, particularly African, to immediately suspend all trade with the Apartheid State of Israel. It has been 10 years since the EFF has called for the South African Government to shut-down the Israeli Embassy,” said EFF national spokesperson, Leigh-Ann Mathys. 

The EFF emphasized that it was simply diplomatic cowardice displayed by the ANC Government to only recall the South African Ambassador to Israel. 

“Further, Palestinians must be supported to fight back against the vileness and land thievery of the Israeli Government,” said Mathys.

 “Palestinians must be well equipped to meet fire with fire. Russia, as it commences its term as the President of United Nations Security Council, must prioritise processing the isolation of the Apartheid State of Israel. It is hypocritical that there are Governments displaying their misplaced Ukrainian solidarity yet silent on Palestinian (subjugation), who for decades have been under abominable oppression of Israel,” said Mathys. 


In a statement, the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) also voiced its concern.  

“South Africa condemns these violent acts by the Israeli government against the worshippers. The use of stun grenades and tear gas on worshippers is unjust. These actions threaten the internationally agreed status-quo in relation to Jerusalem and its sacred sites.”

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Al-Aqsa Mosque belongs to all Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims, and they do not require permission or approval from the Israeli government to enter or pray in the Mosque. These actions undermine all peace efforts and may lead to an explosion in the region. The year 2022 has been described as the deadliest year for Palestinians since the United Nations started tracking fatalities in 2005. More than 200 Palestinians were killed during the Israeli attacks last year,” read the DIRCO statement. 

The department says Israel as the occupying power has specific obligations in terms of the international human rights and humanitarian law to protect Palestinians. 

However DIRCO said the Israeli government continues to breach these obligations with no accountability. The South African Government said it remained unequivocally committed to and values efforts aimed at reviving a political process, leading to ending the occupation.

Local organisations also expressed their outrage at the situation. 

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation (AKF) condemned the inhumane attack and arrest of Palestinian worshippers. 

“The regularity of attacks on the Mosque during the month of Ramadan has now become the norm.

AKF spokesperson, Zusipe Batyi, said Ahmed Kathrada’s visit to Palestine at the time, reinforced his belief that apartheid was worse there than in South Africa. 

“The 14th of April is observed as Al Quds Day and (we) call on all South Africans across religious beliefs to speak out against this ongoing desecration of Al Quds and other places of worship, including churches, that had to endure the barbarism of such attacks,” said Batyi. 

Palestinian ambassador to SA, Hanan Jarrar, said the recent attacks are part of the program of the current Israeli government. 

“The program is; annexation, expansion of colonial settlements, increasing structured discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, mass displacement, ethnic cleansing, as well as policies driven by unhinged religious extremism especially targeting Jerusalem,” said Jarrar.

She said Israel’s aggression against the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound as an egregious assault on the basic right of Palestinians to worship freely in their holy sites, especially during this holy month of fasting and religious introspection. 

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“These actions threaten the internationally agreed status quo in relation to Jerusalem and its sacred sites. Palestine reaffirms that Israel, its officials, occupation forces, and settler terrorist militias, have no sovereignty whatsoever over any part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound. 

Yet with impunity, and in grave violation of the tenets of international law, Israel, the occupying Power is imposing arbitrary limitations on when and how Palestinians can worship while inviting and encouraging settlers to carry out highly provocative and illegal daily raids of the holy site,”

She said it was a shame that similar violence took place during the holy month of Ramadan in 2021 and 2022.

“Such systematic Israeli actions of brutalization and deliberate provocation reflect the occupier’s messianic drive to provoke and initiate a religious confrontation. The international community is obligated to hold Israel and its officials accountable for their crimes. The State of Palestine requests the UN Security Council to urgently devise effective measures to ensure the protection of worshippers and the full respect for the historic and legal status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque,” said Jarrar. 

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