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South Africans Rally for Gaza Ceasefire on International Day of Solidarity

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In a powerful display of solidarity with the Palestinian people, members of South African political parties and civil society organizations took to the streets of Johannesburg on Wednesday, marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The march, demanding a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, brought together rival political factions, including the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

The demonstrators, comprising a diverse array of South African society, marched across the iconic Nelson Mandela Bridge, united in their opposition to Israel’s military offensive in Gaza against the Palestinian organization Hamas. The International Day of Solidarity serves as a platform for global expressions of support for the Palestinian cause, and South Africa’s participants passionately voiced their concerns.

Similar protests were coordinated across the country, resonating with sentiments expressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa and others who have drawn parallels between Israel’s policies in Gaza and the West Bank and South Africa’s historical apartheid regime. The protests reflect a growing global call for action against Israel, echoing the sentiments of the anti-apartheid movement that transformed South Africa in the 1990s.

Ronnie Kasrils, a prominent anti-apartheid activist, addressed the crowd, urging the international community to boycott and isolate Israel. Kasrils emphasized the global movement against Israel’s actions, stating, “All over the world, millions and millions are coming out and saying no, no, no. We will boycott and isolate Israel until it hurts them, and we stand by the Palestinian people fully, in our total support.”

South Africa has long been critical of Israel’s ongoing occupation of Gaza. Last week, the nation’s lawmakers, with strong support from the ANC and EFF, voted in favor of a motion advocating for the closure of Israel’s embassy and the suspension of diplomatic relations. While largely symbolic, this move reflects South Africa’s commitment to expressing its stance against Israel’s actions.

The motion gained momentum after Israel recalled its ambassador to South Africa, responding to remarks by South African leaders accusing Israel of genocide. The South African government also referred Israel’s attacks on Gaza to the International Criminal Court. The motion was opposed by members of the centrist, largely pro-Israel Democratic Alliance, underscoring the diverse opinions within South Africa on this matter.

The international community is closely watching developments in South Africa, particularly its response to the motion. The symbolic nature of the action raises questions about potential diplomatic ramifications and the broader impact on South Africa’s stance on global affairs.

As the call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza echoes through the streets of South African cities, the nation stands at a crossroads, navigating complex diplomatic terrain while passionately expressing its solidarity with the Palestinian cause. The outcome of this symbolic motion and the ongoing protests will undoubtedly shape South Africa’s role in the international discourse on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

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