Palestine-Israel Tensions Rise in Cape Town – PHOTOS

By Nurah Tape – The Palestine Chronicle  

In scenes reminiscent of the apartheid era in South Africa, police used water cannons and stun grenades in an attempt to disperse pro-Palestinian supporters in Cape Town on Sunday.

At least three Palestine supporters were arrested on charges of public violence.

This comes after a pro-Israel event was set to be held at the Sea Point promenade, a public space popular with picnicking families.

The event, advertised as a We stand with Israel – Prayer and Proclamation for Israel and South Africa, was supported by organizations such as South African Friends of Israel and Bridges for Peace, of which the latter has amongst its objectives to “support Israel’s divine God-given right to exist.” 

Despite a strong police presence, the event was called off before it could start after tensions arose between its organizers and hundreds of Palestinian supporters who also gathered at the promenade.

According to reports, more than 2,000 pro-Israel supporters were expected to participate in the event, but buses carrying the supporters were reportedly turned away by the police and the event was canceled.

Sentiments among the crowd were that the flag of an apartheid state should not be allowed to be flown in a former apartheid state.

Witnesses told The Palestine Chronicle that a Palestinian supporter tried to wrestle the Israeli flag from one of the event supporters. Police then intervened and scuffles broke out leading to the arrests. A video on social media shows an Israeli supporter flying the Israeli flag behind a barricade of policemen, who are facing off with Palestine supporters.

Prior to the event, a voice note was shared via WhatsApp from one of the event  organizers in which she assured supporters that “we are working very closely with the Cape Town police department, metro and private security companies to ensure we are all safe at the event.”

This was evident by the strong police presence, including riot police with armored vehicles, since early morning at the venue. Referring to the ANC government’s stance thus far on Israel, organizer Vivienne Myburgh said in her voice note that they (the ANC) should know that “that the people of South Africa do not represent what they are saying, that they do not represent us, and that … particularly Israel would know that there are many South Africans who stand in solidarity with them at this time.

Last week, the ANC government recalled its diplomatic staff from Tel Aviv and also summoned Israel’s ambassador over remarks he made regarding Palestinian support in the country. It also warned that any South African serving in the Israeli occupation forces would face the law, as it was illegal. 

Myburgh is further heard in the voice note as saying that supporters should “not be put into fear by these people who support terror, who support Hamas and who are just trying to intimidate us not to come out and stand. We will stand, we will speak.” 

She concludes with the words uttered by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu earlier last month: “Never again is now.” 

The pro-Israel event follows what is said to have been the largest pro-Palestine protest held in the city on Saturday. 

Addressing tens of thousands who turned up for the protest, the ANC Secretary-General, Fikile Mbalula, and other speakers called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to “act swiftly and shut down the Israeli embassy immediately.”

Mandla Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela, also told the crowd that “we will not tolerate the apartheid state of Israel’s flag being flown in the Republic of South Africa.”

Mandela, who is also an ANC parliamentarian, was present at Sunday’s turnout and tried to calm the emotional crowd after the police’s action against Palestine supporters, who were mainly made up of families who intended to picnic at the promenade whilst showing their support for Palestine.

He also tried to appeal to the police in attendance, saying “you have undergone apartheid in this land, you know what occupation is. You know what brutality is, you see every day what we are witnessing in Gaza.”

“We are here in a public space and every weekend we come here with our families to enjoy this space. The only thing we request of you is … please don’t intimidate us with your protection gear and keep your distance. We are here with our wives and our mothers.” At one point he was seen showing them pictures on his mobile phone of babies killed in Gaza.  

Following the day’s events, Mandela issued a statement saying “the Defiance Campaign has started and we shall continue to mobilize people in solidarity with the Palestinian people from all walks of life and every conceivable dimension of social activity.”

“Let us defy and contest every space in South Africa in which Zionists want to use our hard won freedom to support Apartheid in Occupied Palestine.”

The city of Cape Town is run by the Democratic Alliance, which earlier this month axed one of its politicians from the party’s shadow cabinet after he tweeted that “Israel is committing genocide.” The party had made a decision at a national caucus that members would not comment publicly on the “ongoing conflict in the Middle-East”.  

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis condemned Sunday’s incidents saying the “planned (pro-Israel) protest should have been respected and allowed to proceed peacefully and without interference.”

Tensions have risen across the world with consistent mass protests in major cities from London to Washington DC, with protestors calling on the respective governments to take action against Israel’s atrocities in the Gaza Strip as well as the West Bank. 

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Israel has, thus far, killed over 11,180 Palestinians, including 4,609 children. 

(The Palestine Chronicle)

– Nurah Tape is a South Africa-based journalist. She is an editor with The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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  1. I am very sad about the massacre of Palestine people.
    If there is a God He must just punish this tragedy!
    I cry for the children of Gaza.

  2. I am, and have been all my adult life (about 55 years) a supporter of and campaigner for the people of Palestine. And it’s very heartening that our SA is also. However, unlike Israel, Soth Africa IS a democracy and that means everyone has a right to protest, or picnic, within the law. Much as I completely abhor the sight of an Apartheid Israel flag in a much-loved public space, if we start banning such things we all know where it will end. But: Palestine must be free, from the river to the sea!!

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