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Gaza war results in boycott call at SA retailers

By: Lauren Hess, News24 2014-08-05 12:13

Cape Town - A campaign to boycott South African retailers that supply products sourced in Israel continues, despite many of the companies claiming that very few of their products are from the country.

Woolworths was the top trending topic in South Africa on Twitter as people spoke out about the boycott campaign which is a result of the conflict in Gaza. The conflict has claimed almost 2 000 lives, the vast majority of whom are Palestinians, many of them women and children.

Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa (BDS South Africa) is at the forefront of the boycott. It said that Woolworths sources, among other products, pretzels, couscous, matzo, figs, litchis and mangoes from Israel.

Less than 0.1% of products sourced in Israel - Woolworths

However, in a statement, the retailer said less than 0.1% of its products are sourced from Israel.

“We only source food abroad - in accordance with government regulations - when local products are out of season,” Woolworths said.

BDS South Africa said, according to human rights organisation, Who Profits, “virtually all of Israel’s agricultural companies have illegal operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”.

The boycott call seemed to have little effect, however, with many Woolworths stores doing brisk trade as consumers rushed to an end-of-winter sale.

Pick n Pay also responded to calls for Muslim customers to boycott its stores on the basis that it supports or funds Israel.

In an e-mail to local radio station Voice of the Cape, the supermarket chain denied the claim and said it had "always adopted a strictly non-political stance". Pick n Pay said the claim was potentially damaging to its brand as it had strong links to the Muslim community.

Pick n Pay also said that, similarly to Woolworths, imports from Israel represented a "miniscule percentage" of its products. 

BDS South Africa also urged consumers to get retailers to remove SodaStream from its shelves.

“Sodastream has a factory, in violation of international law, in the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim within the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” BDS South Africa said.

Israel ambassador not being expelled - Zuma

Meanwhile, City Press reports that President Jacob Zuma received a standing ovation in Washington DC after suggesting Israel and Palestine should take advice from South Africa about resolving their violent conflict.

Zuma told the National Press Club in the city, where the US-Africa Leaders summit is under way, that South Africa would not expel Israel’s ambassador Arthur Lenk in the wake of the conflict between Palestine and Israel.

“There was a demonstration in South Africa where the call was made,” he said, adding that South Africa was a free country and people were free to demonstrate to show how they felt.

Israel and Palestine have also agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire that started at 05:00 GMT on Tuesday, reported AFP.


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