The African Radical Economic Transformation Alliance (ARETA) has urged all South Africans to take part in a pro-Palestinian demonstration outside the Israeli embassy in Pretoria, saying Hamas attacks were “legitimate retaliation against Israel”.
Party president Carl Niehaus also called on all left-wing political parties and civil society organizations to rally behind Palestine on Monday in the same way the Palestine Liberation Authority (PLO) supported South Africa’s struggle against apartheid.
Under the PLO’s former leader, Yasser Arafat, Palestine threw its weight behind South Africa’s liberation movements and supported ANC leaders like Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo.
He made the call amid the ongoing battle between Israel and Hamas which has claimed more than 2000 people and injured dozens on both sides since it broke out on October 7.
The latest war between Israel and Palestine started when Hamas fighters crossed from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, killing more than 1000 people and taking at least 150 others hostage.
The dead included at least 86 soldiers, according to the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). Hamas also fired thousands of rockets into Israel, killing 1 100 people and damaging property.
In response, Israel blockaded the Gaza Strip, cut off electricity and electricity, and bombarded the enclave, killing more than 700 people and injuring more than 2000 others.
The IDF launched an air assault on Gaza, destroying buildings including mosques, schools, and hospitals.
“We are calling on all political parties of the left, progressive civil society organizations, and all concerned South Africans to unite in solidarity with the people of Palestine, similarly to how the Palestinian people supported our struggle against apartheid when President Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), pulled out all stops to support our liberation struggle,” said Niehaus.
“Let us never forget who we are, where we come from, and the people who stood with us during some of the most difficult years in our history. The Palestine people, for over 70 years, have suffered massive seizures of Palestinian land and property, unlawful killings, forceful and illegal human transfers, drastic movement restrictions, and the denial of their nationality and citizenship to Palestine.”
Niehaus said that the way the Israeli government treated the Palestinian people was comparable to apartheid South Africa under the National Party.
He said Israel’s military occupation has morphed the entire occupied Palestinian territory into an open-air prison, where Palestinians are constantly confined, placed under surveillance, and abused in the same way Black people were under apartheid.
According to him, Gaza is currently an open-air prison where 2.3 million Palestinians live in the most appalling and inhumane conditions and are subject to daily terror attacks by the Israeli army.
Niehaus said since the Israeli military had been regularly terrorizing the Palestinians, Hamas’ recent attacks were legitimate retaliation.
He lambasted the Western media’s one-sided reporting about the Palestine-Israel war.
“It is also outrageous that the mainstream Western media has been so deliberately, and deadly, silent about what the Palestinians have faced for far too long and chose only to start their biased media coverage when Hamas proceeded with their legitimate retaliation against Israel.
“There can be no doubt that, in terms of various United Nations (UN) resolutions and international law, taking up arms against the apartheid Israel state is not only courageous but also legal,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has appealed for a ceasefire and restraint by all sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The Federation mourns the tragic loss of lives and injuries, especially among innocent civilians, women, and children on both sides of this intractable conflict. The attacks on all sides must end. Civilian hostages and prisoners, in particular women, children, and the elderly, must be returned to their families unharmed,” said COSATU spokesperson Mathew Parks.
Parks also called for an immediate ceasefire, adding the federation unequivocally reaffirmed its principled support for the anti-apartheid struggles of the Palestine people.
He said COSATU supported Palestine’s quest for statehood.