The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is going to Gaza, EFF MP Magdalene Moonsamy said on Wednesday.
Speaking from the back of a truck outside Parliament’s main gates in Cape Town, she told a crowd of pro-Palestinian demonstrators that her party stood with them. “We are going to go to Gaza … we pledge solidarity with the people of Gaza,” Moonsamy said.
Earlier, thousands of chanting demonstrators streamed up Plein Street and gathered outside the parliamentary complex. The crowd, which stretched over several city blocks, held aloft scores of banners and posters calling for an end to the violence in Palestine’s Gaza Strip.
“Israel should be wipe [sic] out of the map” and “Netanyahu: Hitler’s clone” were among the poster messages displayed. The march comes a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that his country would “expand and intensify” its campaign against Palestinian organisation Hamas.
The Jewish state has been conducting air strikes against the Palestinian territory in retaliation for rockets fired out of Gaza into Israel. Palestinian officials say at least 200 people have been killed in the air strikes, including children.
“Free, free Palestine!” the protesters chanted outside the parliamentary complex.
Posters held aloft by the crowd proclaimed: “Israel murders children in Gaza” and “Viva Palestine, Viva Hamas”. A group of men wearing taqiyah skullcaps carried a large Palestinian flag.
Speaking to the crowd, several of whom were wearing the distinctive EFF red beret, Moonsamy called on government to expel Israel’s ambassador to South Africa and to withdraw its own ambassador from Israel.
A dozen police officers, some in body armour, stood impassively behind yellow tape outside Parliament’s main gates. Close by, a young Muslim boy dressed in a long robe with a keffiyeh scarf draped round his neck held up a hand-printed poster calling on South Africa to “boycott apartheid Israel”.
Demonstrators packed the intersection of Plein and Roeland streets and spilled over into the grounds of St Mary’s Cathedral, where a life-size statue of Christ on a wooden cross formed a backdrop to a sea of chequered head gear and speakers calling for an end to Zionism.
The Muslim Judicial Council organised the march. A memorandum was later handed to the chair of Parliament’s international relations portfolio committee, Siphosezwe Masango. Demonstrators could be seen moving away peacefully in small groups down Plein Street by 1.30pm. – Sapa