Later today and in this week protest actions are being rolled out in Cape Town, Johannesburg and other South African cities against Israel’s siege on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and recent restriction on movement and religion as well as the Israeli regime's increased violence against the Palestinians which have left four young Palestinians dead in less than a week.
In the last week, four Palestinian youth between the ages of 17 and 20 have been killed by Israel (click here
). The Israeli killings of Palestinians come following new Israeli restrictions on Palestinian holy sites and specifically in East Jerusalem including the Al-aqsa mosque where Israel has imposed new so called security measures and barring Palestinian men under the age of 50 from the holy site. These among other Israeli restrictions have led to the recent Aqsa protests. The Israeli restrictions have been described as coercive in character more than a security measure and is viewed as an extension of Israel’s larger illegal occupation and specially its occupation of East Jerusalem.
Palestinian non-violent prayers and demonstrations are currently taking place across Jerusalem and the West Bank in protest against these recent increased restrictions by Israel on Palestinian freedom of movement and religion, particularly in East Jerusalem and at the Al Aqsa mosque. Israel is illegally occupying and controlling East Jerusalem with Israel's domination of Palestinian holy sites in East Jerusalem, both Christian and Muslim, being in violation of international law. South Africa among other countries do not recognize Israel’s occupation and control of East Jerusalem nor of the Old City and the Al-Aqsa mosque or Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The Israeli restrictions on Palestinian Muslim holy sites are similar to Israeli restrictions on Palestinian Christian holy sites. During Easter, Israel routinely obstructs Palestinian Christians from praying at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in East Jerusalem (click here for 2013, click here for 2014, click here for 2015, click here for 2016, click here for 2017). Christian and Muslim Palestinians gathered over the weekend in front of the Nativity Church in Bethlehem in Palestine to protest against Israeli violence at the Al- Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Palestinian Christian Jalal Barham, spokesman for the Arab Orthodox Youth Caucus said: “Today we stand in front of the Nativity Church, the cradle of Jesus Christ to say there is no difference between Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There is no difference between the gates of Al-Aqsa and the gates of the churches of the Holy Sepulchre and the Nativity…we affirm that we are one people, and our history is one – Muslim and Christian, our people will not accept [this]. We will continue to fight for the freedom and dignity of our Islamic and Christian sanctities.” (click here)
As South Africans, witnessing the non-violent demonstrations by the indigenous Palestinians against Israel's occupation and oppression, we are painfully reminded of the protests by our own youth during the 70s and 80s against Apartheid South Africa. Israel tries to suggest that this is a religious conflict, and some fanatical Israelis believe it to be such by advancing the destruction of Palestinian holy sites including the Al-aqsa mosque and Palestinian Christians churches (click here
), but in essence, like our own struggle, even though there were some fanatical religious Afrikaaners, this is primarily an issue of an indigenous people, the Palestinians, demanding equality and freedom from an occupying power - Israel. Jerusalem resident Jalal Abukhater has explained that: "The spirit of unity amongst Jerusalemites today has been extraordinary. People from all walks of life, practicing Muslims and non-practicing Muslims and even Christians, have taken part in directly protesting the closure of Al-Aqsa. We all recognize the significance of this battle, and so we all resist." (click here
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BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL IN SOUTH AFRICA (BDS SOUTH AFRICA)
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