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What’s happening in Palestine

Israeli airstrikes against protesting Palestinians, which began late last week, have killed 69 Palestinians, including 17 children in Gaza, sparking a new uproar over the ongoing conflict in the region. Six Israelis have also been killed.

The protests began on Thursday over an impending court order for the eviction of several Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem. It opened old wounds at a sensitive time: this week both sides remember the complicated history that led to this situation. The violence then rapidly escalated as protests moved to Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. Israeli forces fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at worshippers. Palestinian resistance group Hamas, in turn, fired rockets into Israel on Monday, while Israel launched airstrikes into Gaza on the same day. 

The conflict has been raging since 1948 when the state of Israel was first declared. The background is complex but what you do need to know is that last month saw a landmark report by Human Rights Watch, which found that Israel is committing crimes of apartheid and persecution against Palestinians.

Israel denounced the report, saying that the organisation has a longstanding “anti-Israel agenda”. The Guardian reported that the International Criminal Court is investigating Israel for war crimes. 

The Palestinian struggle has long been paralleled with apartheid in SA. Ramaphosa earlier this week affirmed the governing ANC’s ongoing support “for the people of Palestine and their struggle for freedom and self-determination”, and condemned both the proposed evictions and the “brutal attacks on the Palestinian protestors at al-Aqsa mosque”. Scores of South Africans marched in support of Palestine in Joburg and Cape Town, calling on the government to impose sanctions on Israel. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 15 April 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates