Shoks Mnisi Mzolo
– Cii News | 27 August 2014/01 Dhul Qa’dah 1435 “For the past six years Israelis have launched three wars on Gaza. In each war they had objective, but to humiliate and subjugate the Palestinian people who decided to resist their colonisation, and apartheid regime in Palestine,” Al Aqsa University lecturer Professor Mahmoud Alhirthani told Sabahul Khair this morning. This Gaza-based academic was speaking to Cii less than 24 hours after Tel Aviv and Palestinian political leaders implemented a ‘long-term’ ceasefire following the murder of 2,100 people (mostly Palestinian civilians) by the Israeli Defence Force. That Israel has been able to claim thousands of lives (a quarter of which were children) and displace many more, since launching rockets on July 8 on Gaza, with impunity can be traced to Washington, Alhirthani said. “Backed blindly by America, Israel can do as it pleases at any time against any person. This is a shame on the international community,” he explained but singled out and thanked the peoples of South Africa and South American countries for coming out in droves to denounce the actions of the apartheid Israeli occupying force. With the latest ceasefire, notwithstanding that the IDF drones are still tormenting the 1.8m people of Gaza, a bit of reflection is required. The first point is that, in the past three instances, Israel didn’t keep its side of the deal. How will this ceasefire work and what punishment may Israel face should it murder especially civilians? The densely-populated Gaza, the world’s biggest concentration camp and killing field, is home to Hamas, a liberation movement elected by the people of Palestine in 2006 before the West conspired to oust it years later. Critically, it’s worth asking what the Israeli invasion – that took 2,132 lives in Gaza, injured 10,890 people (a third of them children), destroyed residential areas and displaced families, razed 92 schools, 157 mosques, eight hospitals and many other facilities by the IDF, was about and if the invasive Binyamin Netanyahu government can claim victory. “Throughout these three wars they have never achieved the objectives they set out for themselves before launching their wars. They said they were going to topple the democratically-elected government of Hamas in 2008 and 2009. And, they failed to topple the government that was democratically-elected. In 2012, they said they were going to crack down on resistance and, again, they failed,” Alhirthani told Cii listeners. He explained that Egypt’s coup regime, which strangely brokered the ceasefire deal, was as guilty for maintaining blockade by shutting Rafah crossing. With Israeli boarders (and IDF-controlled Palestinian seaport) also shut, there is extremely restricted movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza. Turning to the outcome of the latest terror attack by the IDF, the academic said nothing changed. Notwithstanding that the invasion left scores dead and others psychologically traumatised – Israel conceded, argued Alhirthani who also terms Netanyahu’s Zionist regime as Nazist and racist. “This time, in 2014, they came out with the same objective, saying that ‘we are going to uproot the resistance and specifically the armed resistance that are crystalising on Palestinian land now or the historical Palestine’. The thing is that they faced a situation that was so complicated on the ground. The Palestinian people were so steadfast. They supported the resistance and the Israelis could not achieve any of their aims,” observed the academic, explaining that Netanyahu’s government resorted to murdering children as well as women and destroying Gaza infrastructure without sparing mosques, schools, ambulances and churches. “What we have learnt from this situation is that Israel, as an apartheid regime, is very fragile. Without the support of the Western world it wouldn’t last for long,” said Alhirthani, noting the Palestinians want justice, self-determination and end to Israeli occupation, that’s powered by protracted genocide and psychological trauma. “Apartheid regime in Israel is a regime of racism and regime of Nazism. And, we all know that Nazism did not last for long because human beings could not accept such a situation where a human kills a human without any purpose just to humiliate and subjugate that human being.”
The ceasefire deal: Who gains what
Israel and the Palestinians agreed to an Egyptian-brokered plan to end the fighting in Gaza after 50 days of combat. The following are the broad parameters of the agreement, provided by Israeli and Palestinian officials.
Some of the immediate steps
* Hamas and other militant groups agree to halt all rocket and mortar fire into Israel.
* Israel will stop all military action including air strikes and ground operations.
* Israel agrees to open more of its border crossings with Gaza to allow the easier flow of goods, including humanitarian aid and reconstruction equipment, into the enclave.
* In a separate, bilateral agreement, Egypt will agree to open its 14km border with Gaza at Rafah.
* The Palestinian Authority to coordinate the reconstruction effort in Gaza with international donors, including the EU, Norway, Qatar and Turkey.
* Israel will extend the fishing limit off Gaza’s coast to six miles from three miles, with the possibility of widening it gradually if the truce holds. Ultimately, the Palestinians want to return to a full 12-mile international allowance.
Some longer-term issues
* Hamas wants Israel to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners rounded up in the occupied West Bank after the abduction and killing of three Jewish students in June.
* President Abbas, who heads the Fatah party, wants freedom for long-serving Palestinian prisoners.
* Israel wants Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza to hand over all body parts and personal effects of Israeli soldiers killed during the war.
* Hamas wants a sea port built in Gaza. Israel has long rejected the plan, but it is possible that progress towards it could be made if there are security guarantees.
* Hamas wants the unfreezing of funds to allow it to pay 40,000 police, government workers and administrative staff who have largely been without salaries since late last year. The funds were frozen by the Palestinian Authority.
* The Palestinians also want the airport in Gaza to be rebuilt.
Shoks Mnisi Mzolo
– Cii News “We made it clear, as the South African civil society, that the South African government needs to do more in terms of solidarity with the Palestinian people. (Our government) needs to do so in concrete (steps). We are beyond the time of condemnation and the time of strong statements. We want action from the South African government,” anti-Israeli apartheid activist Mohammed Desai said in an interview with Sabahul Khair this morning, in the wake of the civil sector’s recent meeting with President Jacob Zuma in Cape Town. Desai – a representative of the anti-apartheid Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanction (BDS) – also told Cii listeners that there were some loopholes, on the part of government policy, that the civil sector noted during its meeting with Zuma. The Palestinian Solidarity Movement (PSM) delegation that met the President included ANC Youth League, the local BDS branch, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) and other civil-based groupings. Against the background of this meeting is a series of attacks on civilian Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza, an open-air prison that’s home to liberation movement Hamas. The Israel-orchestrated assault, which the Zuma-led ANC says is “barbaric”, has claimed well over 2,000 lives (including children shot while playing and vulnerable civilians at United Nations shelters) since it began on July 8. Even the United States, an ally of Binyamin Netanyahu’s regime, which violates international laws and human rights, has described the death toll as alarming. As a form of solidarity, South Africans – along pro-justice members of the world community – have also taken to the streets demanding the axing of Israeli ambassadors and that the siege and “collective punishment” on the people of Palestine stop. An estimated 100,000 locals, some members of the PSM, took to the streets of Cape Town to register their objection to Israel’s occupation and terrorism. Other cities, including Durban and Johannesburg, also played host to such pro-Palestinian marches. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, MJC’s Abdul Khaliq Allie and struggle veteran Ronnie Kasrils, Zuma’s ANC comrade, addressed the crowds. It is some of this show of public support that spurred Zuma to give an ear to the civil-based PSM, explained Desai. The meeting, which Desai describes as constructive, at Zuma’s Cape Town residence took place amid a tight schedule, and this was a source of pleasant surprise for the pro-Palestinian and anti-apartheid bloc. That wasn’t the only surprise. The president will soon meet the PSM to take the discussion forward after going through its proposals. “He did indicate and confirm that we will have a follow-up meeting in just about a week’s time to go through the details of the policies that we have put forward and the steps and actions that we want the South African government to implement. So, we do look forward to that meeting and we do hope to convey the good news after that meeting to the community and the public,” the BDS and PSM activist said, explaining that it too wants the Israeli ambassador sacked and South Africa’s recalled. Unfortunately, the President previously said the Israeli ambassador was staying. Turning to the protracted occupation, Desai – who blames entities such as the South African Board Jewish Deputies, which do “dirty work” for Tel Aviv rather than advancing Judaism – told Cii listeners that Palestine’s struggle against apartheid is weakened by the presence of proxy organisations across the world. In contrast, the apartheid regime in South Africa didn’t have much by way of international lobbyists or proxies in business or religious bodies. “As South Africans, our starting point – even before the BDS, in fact – is to affirm the right of every Palestinian to defend themselves and to resist their occupation, their siege, and their oppression by the Israeli regime. I think that’s the starting point for every person who claims to be in solidarity with the Palestinian people,” Desai explained. “Being in the international community we should be part of the call made by Palestine – that is the call for boycott, disinvestment and sanctions.” Asked why Israel enjoys support from many South Africans, a good number of whom suffered apartheid pre-1994, Desai noted concerted efforts by conservatives to conflate the truth and depict Israelis as victims. Political parties, who accept huge sums from Israel, only worsen the damage. “The Israeli occupation doesn’t attack you because you’re Palestinian Muslim or Palestinian Christian but because you’re Palestinian. That is your crime,” he said.