South Africa: protests, doctors, food aid for Gaza
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
A coalition of grassroots activists have launched a daily picket campaign starting outside Parliament tomorrow (MONDAY), vowing to protest until the South African government expels the Israeli ambassador.
The campaign is organised by the Action Forum in Support of Palestine, based in Cape Town, which has also run a boycott of Israeli goods at various supermarkets.
One of the forum organisers, Shaheed Mahomed, said their meetings have comprised “50 people linked to various organisations and activist networks”.
“People are very clear that this is not a religious movement but all religions are welcome. We have municipal workers, union members, youth groups and people from the ANC, Economic Freedom Fighters and the anti-war movement,” he said.
Mahomed said they would meet outside Parliament from 12pm to 2pm tomorrow. From Tuesday, they would gather at the Grand Parade daily from 4pm to “turn it into a Tahrir Square (mimicking protests in Cairo)”.
“There is a genocide in Gaza. We feel there needs to be more pressure put on the government to act. We are going into a daily picket mode until our government expels the Israeli ambassador,” said Mahomed.
“We also want any South African citizen who is in the Israeli army to be prosecuted immediately. Our government must cut trade links with Israel.”
The forum has called on locals to boycott local retailers that “continue to import food products from Israel”.
This involves “filling trolleys with Israeli goods and goods from companies that support Israel, have the tills ring up the goods, call the manager and speak about removing all these goods from the shelves”.
Other local NGOs have assisted Palestinians in Gaza with medical and food supplies.
Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of Gift of the Givers, said their “teams have already delivered much needed aid to various hospitals in Gaza”.
“We are preparing a humanitarian aid flight for Gaza, with specialist medical teams, emergency equipment and medical supplies. Medical personnel specific to the situation are being selected from the overwhelming response of 120 volunteers who have responded for this dangerous and high risk mission,” said Sooliman.
He said there was a “lack of medical equipment, medicines, general medical supplies and a shortage of skilled trauma specialists” in Gaza.
Sooliman said they were in contact with the Egyptian government via the South Africa department of international relations and cooperation.
“We are just waiting for the go-ahead from Egypt so we can enter Gaza through the Rafah border crossing. We depend now only on diplomatic support,” he said.
The Cape Town-based South African National Zakah Fund this week sent R1-million to assist Palestinians in Gaza with food. It said the funds was handed to an international NGO that has offices in Palestine and it had purchased and distributed food this week, ahead of Eid ul-Fitr celebrations.