Shoks Mnisi Mzolo – Cii News
Amid the sounds of tanks and warplanes massacring 1,900 Palestinians since July 8, anti-apartheid activists urged local consumers to boycott security company G4S, Sodastream and Woolworths stores. By trading with Israel, argue activists, these companies are complicit in Tel Aviv regime’s apartheid and occupation. According to Boycott Divest Sanction (BDS), Woolworths brings in produce from Israel – which stands accused of violating human rights and orchestrating violence against Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and within the Binyamin Netanyahu state.
BDS South Africa spokesperson Mahomed Desai urged locals to not obsess with the lists doing the rounds but to use their muscle by boycotting goods and services from Israel. This, explained Desai, could punish Israel the same way that the power of mere individual consumers around the globe squeezed South Africa during apartheid. For some context, Palestinians, within occupied territories and those in exile, are fighting for freedom. The over-looked slow-motion genocide by Israel is meant to displace millions more Palestinians and stall their leadership’s struggle to end subjugation. Realising their plight, the United Nations declared 2014 as the year of solidarity with them.
“(Get) into the campaign. BDS is not just about refraining from certain products. It’s about campaigning for those products to be completely removed from shelves of our supermarkets. As BDS South Africa we have endorsed three campaigns that we’re really encouraging people, in this time in which Israel needs to be held accountable for its violation of international law, for members of the community to join us,” Desai told Cii listeners on Sabahul Khair.
“Those three campaigns are, firstly, a complete boycott on Woolworths. After much strategy and much analysis of the situation, we really feel that we can bring Woolworths to the table where we can negotiate with them to end their relationship with Israel. Woolworths is increasingly bringing in fresh produce from Israel,” this activist said, adding that the lobby group’s many attempts to get the retailer to cut ties with Israeli companies have yielded no results.
Next up, BDS South Africa is in August escalating its campaign against Sodastream, an Israeli beverage machine group penetrating Africa. The company’s products are stocked by the likes of Massmart brands (Game and Makro), Trade Centre and others. “What makes the campaign against SodaStream even stronger is that SodaStream is an Israeli company based in one of those illegal Israeli Jewish-only settlements,” explained the local BDS activist.
In Britain, where pressure by the pro-Palestinian BDS bloc is also building up, consumer boycott hit the Israeli firm so hard that one of that country’s largest retailers, John Lewis, stopped selling Sodastream. Further, according to UK media reports, BDS two-year protests forced SodaStream to shut its Ecostream store in Brighton.
BDS has also scored victories on the local front. G4S, explained Desai, is an international security company that runs Israeli prisons and detention facilities that hold Palestinian freedom fighters and activists. “On the positive note, G4S has been losing a number of customers – particularly from the Muslim community as well. For example, two weeks ago, we received a phone call from a businessman saying that he’s cancelled two of his contracts with G4S and he’s managed to get 12 other businesses – that’s he’s canvassed their opinion – to also cancel their contracts.”
Globally, BDS floored G4S when US hi-tech mogul Bill Gates – a figure linked with Boko Haram – conceded to the pro-Palestinian lobby group’s demands and divested his fortune from this security firm. In an embarrassing twist, it has emerged that Saudi Arabia hired G4S, which derives profits from the continued oppression of the Palestinians, to provide security in Hajj. Terming this as “scandalous”, BDS seeks remedy. “The Saudi embassies around the world, including the Saudi embassy in South Africa, was given a letter outlining the situation requesting them to cancel that G4S contract,” Desai explained.
As part of their campaign – in addition to wooing supermarkets, butcheries and stores – BDS and consumers, added Desai, ought to address Riyadh. “One way that you can do this is by writing a letter… demanding a meeting with the Saudi ambassador in Pretoria.” So, BDS focus extends beyond G4S’s client base and Woolworths or SodaStream. To invoke the UN’s stated recognition of 2014 as the year of solidarity with the people of Palestine – without a sense of brotherhood from ordinary people, and the faithful – can the Palestinians get their freedom this lifetime?
The following is a list of Palestinian demands presented to Israel by the Palestinian resistance in Gaza, during indirect talks held in Egypt between Israeli and Palestinians teams, as published by al-Watan News:
1. Israel totally rejects establishing either a Seaport or an Airport in the Gaza Strip.
2. Totally rejects the release of all detainees who were released under the Shalit Prisoner Swap Deal, and rearrested by Israel.
3. Israel “reserves the right” to act against the tunnels in Gaza.
4. Israel “reserves the right” to conduct targeted killings.
5. Agrees to consider the Rafah Border Terminal as an Egyptian-Palestinian issue.
6. Agrees to release the fourth phase of veteran detainees “as a goodwill gesture toward president Mahmoud Abbas.”
7. Agrees to extend the Palestinian fishing zone in Gaza territorial waters.
8. Agrees to allow the transfer of money for paying salaries in the Gaza Strip.
9. Agrees to ease restrictions on Palestinians crossing the Erez terminal, will not relax restrictions on goods.
10. Agrees to the entry of construction equipment, but only under international supervision.
Just before the 72-hour ceasefire ended on Friday morning, Israeli sources said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the army to remain ready for any possible escalation.
When the came to an end the resistance fired a missile into the Nahal ‘Oz military base, across the border and the army bombarded several areas in the Gaza Strip.
Armed groups also fired shells into Asqalan (Ashkelon) and a number of areas.
Turkey evacuates wounded Palestinians from Gaza
Ankara – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country has started to evacuate wounded people from Gaza to Turkey for treatment.
Erdogan did not provide details, but the state-run Anadolu Agency said a Turkish air ambulance left for Israel late on Sunday to transport four people to Turkey for treatment in hospitals in the capital Ankara. The agency said a child was among the wounded.
Erdogan made the announcement during a victory speech hours after he was elected president in Turkey’s first direct vote for the position.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said this week that Turkey was working to establish an air corridor to bring the seriously wounded to Turkey.