Pro- and anti-Israel supporters show up at Zionist rally

Johannesburg - Pro-Palestine supporters gathered outside the Huddle Park Golf Course in Linksfield on Sunday, to protest against a rally being held by the SA Zionist Federation in support of Israel.

Inside the golf course, chief rabbi Warren Goldstein said: "Hamas militants in Palestine are ideological allies of other groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shabaab in Syria."

Hamas is in control of Gaza in Palestine.

He said thousands of Africans were being murdered by militants across the continent because they are Christians.

"What is happening in places such as Nigeria is deplorable. Our message here is that of peace across Israel and Palestine.

"A terrorist state has launched rockets to a democratic state. Israel has exhibited more care to harming citizens than any other military." ACDP president Kenneth Meshoe and Shembe church members, led by Bishop Phakamani Shembe were also present.

Israel has the same right to existence as other democratic states, Meshoe said.

"We are here to say we do not believe what is coming out of the media, we can read and we know the truth," African Christian Democratic Party leader Meshoe said.

"Just as the USA, Germany and Britain has a right to exist, so does Israel. Any human being has a right to existence, whether we agree with them or not."

Meshoe said he was saddened by the deaths in Israel and Palestine as a result of the ongoing conflict.

"The loss of life, especially when it comes to women and children, is saddening."

"Hamas must be told to stop using women and children as human shields. They should move from firing rockets from residential areas in Gaza."

Crowd surpassing 10 000

A master of ceremonies announced just before 16:00 that, according to the SA Police Service, the crowd had passed 10 000 and more people were streaming in.

Outside the venue, pro-Palestine supporters held placards calling for peace and the freedom of Palestine from Israel.

Security was tight as armed security guards requested identification before one could walk or drive in.

Authorities say least 9 000 Gazans have been wounded and rights groups have estimated that more than 10 000 houses were destroyed or badly damaged by Israel, the Agence France-Presse reported.

More than 250 000 Palestinians - about 15% of the population - have fled their homes in Gaza. About half of the territory is deemed unsafe for civilians.