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Thousands march in Cape Town in solidarity with Palestinians

Pro-Palestinian supporters demonstrate at the entrance to the Israeli embassy in Pretoria, South Africa   -  
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Denis Farrell/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

South Africa

Tens of thousands of South Africans took part in a march in Cape Town on Saturday in support of Palestinians living in Gaza, demanding that the Israeli ambassador be expelled.

The enclave has been under intense fire from Israel, which went to war to eliminate the militant group, Hamas, after it staged a bloody cross-border assault on 7 October.

The marchers were led by clergy from different faiths chanting "free Palestine", including anti-apartheid cleric, Dr Allan Boesak, who called for the Israeli embassy to be shut down.

"That apartheid state that’s been waging a war of extermination for the last 75 years against our people,” he said to the crowd amid cries of “shut it down”.

“That apartheid state that cannot stop murdering the children. For every Palestinian child in a coffin, we say shut it down. Every piece of land stolen from our people in Palestine, shut it down," he said.

Palestinian officials say over 11 thousand people have been killed in Gaza, 40 per cent of them children, since the start of Israel’s war.

Israeli officials say around 1,400 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Hamas’ attack, during which about 240 others were taken hostage.

Demonstrator, Anjali Kooverjee, said she believed it was her moral duty to stand up for human rights.

"I believe that any violence toward any person, no matter what race, religion, sexual orientation you are, is completely wrong,” she said, “and what’s happening in Gaza and in Palestine at the moment is a complete violation of human rights."

The South African government on Monday said it would recall all its diplomats from Israel to signal its concern over the situation in Gaza.

Pretoria has long been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, with the ruling African National Congress often linking it to its own struggle against apartheid.

Mandla Mandela, grandson of former president, and Nobel Peace Laureate, Nelson Mandela, took part in the protest.

There has been numerous pro-Palestinian demonstrations across South Africa over the past month, with President Cyril Ramaphosa among several ANC officials who have participated.

Home to the largest Jewish community in sub-Saharan Africa, the country has also seen several pro-Israel demonstrations and initiatives.

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