South African human rights organisations demand Israeli ambassador be expelled
Friday, 11 July 2014
Several South African human rights organisations demanded on Thursday for the South African government to expel the Israeli ambassador in Johannesburg in protest of the Israeli military aggression in the Gaza Strip, Anadolu news agency reported.
Ibrahim Fawda, a senior researcher at a human rights organisation, told the agency, "We call on the South African government to first recall our ambassador from Tel Aviv, and then to expel the Israeli ambassador from South Africa." Fawda insisted that the South African government should take firm action against Israel because of the crimes it is committing against the Palestinians. He said, "the government of South Africa should be at the forefront of calling for international sanctions and supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions, BDS campaign against Israel," adding "We would not have succeeded in eradicating apartheid if we did not have the support of the international community."
A member of the Palestine Solidarity Alliance, Adam Nazim, said that his organisation supports the call to sever diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. "We cannot continue our relationship with an apartheid state like Israel," he said. Adam noted that his organisation plans to stage a demonstration next Sunday in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, to protest against the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) issued similar calls. COSATU said in a statement: "We support the demand to recall the South African ambassador from Israel and to expel the Israeli ambassador from South Africa, and move quickly to isolate Israel and all those who sympathise with racism and the Zionist occupation." COSATU pointed out that the time has come for the world to move beyond the mere words of compassion towards action, as it did with the apartheid regime in South Africa when it announced its policies were crimes against humanity.
The statement pointed out that "apartheid is still a crime against humanity, wherever it happens, and if apartheid does not anger us, then our humanity should be questioned."
A member of BDS South Africa, Mohammed Desai, said the group would organise a protest on Friday outside the headquarters of the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation in Pretoria, demanding the ministry and the South African government to withdraw the South African ambassador in Tel Aviv and to expel the Israeli ambassador.
Earlier in the day, the African National Congress ruling party condemned Israel's continued campaign in the Gaza Strip and urged South Africans to protest against the Israeli attacks and to show solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The Deputy Secretary-General of the party, Jessie Duarte, said in a statement: "The African National Congress condemns, in the strongest terms, the brutal attacks on the unarmed Palestinian people in Gaza. The State of Israel has turned the occupied territories in Palestine into death camps," adding "as we move towards August and remember the horrors of Nazi Germany, we should certainly ask the people of Israel, has the phrase 'so we do not forget' lost its meaning?"
Duarte said, "For the State of Israel, the eye for an eye concept has turned into a lasting massacre and ruthless revenge for more than 60 years. It's time to stop the killing."
According to the statement, the party described the Gaza Strip as "the largest open-air prison in the world" and demanded an end to "the Israeli illegal occupation and collective punishment against the Palestinians".
The Party urged all South Africans, regardless of their ethnic and religious backgrounds, to protest against Israel's deadly attack and to show solidarity with the people of Gaza. "The brutal murders carried out by South Africa during the apartheid era against our people in the 1980s led to its isolation and it seems that Israel is taking a similar path of isolation by committing such attacks," it said.
The statement concluded: "We are clear in our support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination and strongly believe that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel."
The Israeli Air Force waged since Monday intense raids on different parts of the Gaza Strip, resulting in the killing of at least 90 Palestinians and the wounding of more than 570 others, according to Palestinian medical sources.
Meanwhile, the military wings of the Palestinian factions, especially Al-Qassam Brigades and Al-Quds Brigades, have fired hundreds of rockets and missiles towards Israeli cities and towns, causing limited damages and injuries.