10 000s gather for Cape Town pro-Palestine march

Cape Town - Tens of thousands of people supporting Palestine marched to Parliament in Cape Town on Saturday in one of the biggest rallies the city has seen in 20 years.

The huge crowd, which stretched halfway across the inner city, chanted, sang and held aloft banners and posters calling for an end to the violence in the Gaza Strip.

"We estimate there are well over 30 000 people, and the figure could be as high as 50 000," Cape Town's executive director safety and security Richard Bosman told Sapa.

Shortly after 13:00 on Saturday, thousands of people were thronged for blocks around Parliament's main gates in Plein Street as speakers addressed them from the back of a flat-bed truck.

The march was called by the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P), which comprises more than 30 religious and civil society organisations, trade unions and political parties, including the Muslim Judicial Council, the Congress of SA Trade Unions, and the ANC Youth League.

In a statement earlier this week, the grouping said it was demanding "decisive action from the South African government against the Israeli attacks, killings, displacement and destruction of the Gaza Strip".

It was also calling for an international inquiry into the conduct of Israeli armed forces in the Palestinian territory.

‘Shame on Israel’

Earlier on Saturday, the marchers had followed a route from Keizergracht via Christiaan Barnard, Adderley and Plein streets to Parliament.

Melomed 24 Ambulance Services operations manager Shadley Abrahams told Sapa there had been no serious casualties among the marchers, whom he described as well organised.

"There were no serious incidents, thank goodness. We had some exhaustion cases, about eight of them, and four people tripped and hurt themselves, including one two-year-old boy who knocked his head."

Abrahams, whose company had volunteered its services for the event, said it was one of the biggest marches he had seen in Cape Town.

"When the first marchers were half way up Adderley Street, the tail had still to leave Keizergracht," he said.

Bosman confirmed the march had gone smoothly.

"There were no serious incidents. It was entirely peaceful," he said.

There was strong anti-Israel sentiment among the marchers, with many displaying posters stating "Shame on Israel", "Israel is an apartheid state" and "Stop Israeli murder".

According to reports, more than 1 900 people have been killed since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge against Gaza a month ago.

Israel has said its aim is to stop the firing of rockets by Hamas militants into its territory, and to destroy a vast network of tunnels used to launch attacks into Israel. The United Nations says over 1 350 of those killed were civilians, including hundreds of women and children.

Israel has reported that more than 60 of its soldiers have been killed in the fighting. It also claims that about 900 militants have been killed.

‘Historical amnesia’

The end of a three-day ceasefire in the region was marked on Friday morning by the firing of more rockets from Gaza into Israel.

In retaliation, Israel has resumed air strikes against targets in the Gaza Strip.

Ahead of the marchers arrival at Parliament on Saturday, hundreds had already gathered outside its gates.

These included a group of women, all wearing the red, green, black and white colours of the Palestinian flag, standing behind a banner proclaiming "South African government must stop selling arms to Israel".

Another woman held up a sign stating "Zuma suffer of [sic] historical amnesia".

Police kept a close eye on the marchers.

A police armoured vehicle was parked higher up Plein Street, blocking the road, and police officers, several in body armour, could be seen gathered around it.

Along the route taken by the marchers, scores of people could be seen gazing down at the spectacle from roofs and balconies. Many of them were using their cellphones to record and photograph the event.

Earlier this week, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe avoided a direct response to a question on what government's exact position was on growing calls for a boycott of goods from Israel, and the withdrawal of both countries' ambassadors.

"We want peace in the Middle East. We are committed to facilitating the resolution of the conflict there. That is why [President Jacob Zuma] sent special envoys [to Palestine]. So that's the position of the South African government," he told journalists on Thursday during a media briefing in Pretoria.

Enig Ma 2014-08-09 03:34:04 PM
I am unreservedly Pro Palestine. However, I believe I am part of a small minority of those for Palestine who base my support on political facts and a strong humanitarian stance rather than religion. The complete absence of this kind and size of protests against atrocities currently commited around the World in the name of Islam, and in obedience to the quran and hadeeth, proves that the people protesting do not do so for the sake of the people of Palestine, but for the sake of their religion. They are as demented and depraved as Muhammad the terrorist and rapist was, and do no good for the cause of Palestine. Hypocrates!!!! Free Palestine. A secular democracy now!
Greig Garratt 2014-08-09 03:38:05 PM
I wonder why there's no protesting against the atrocities numbering in the 1000's in Syria against Christians and in Iraq against Muslims??
Lucky Tiva 2014-08-09 03:39:00 PM
"I will bless tho who bless israel,and i will curse those who curse israel".
Tomorrowss Dreamss 2014-08-09 03:44:57 PM
Tomorrowss Dreamss 2014-08-09 03:45:32 PM
Sthembiso Jali 2014-08-09 03:46:22 PM
They rally behind Palestine and curse Israeli but they vote for the Da. Mmmmh
Tomorrowss Dreamss 2014-08-09 03:48:21 PM
Johan Steyn265 2014-08-09 03:48:37 PM
Why don't 1000's of sa citizens march against killings and coruption in sa noooooo we want to poke our nose in someone elses afairs like always!
Stephanes Heunis 2014-08-09 03:50:24 PM
so they can bring local people's lives to a stop in the name off a foreign issue, but nothing for internal issues.
robespear 2014-08-09 03:51:40 PM
Women have no rights under Sharia law and these hypocrites protest for Hammas that enforces Sharia .... ON WOMENS DAY!!!! As for TUTU - shame on him!