Thousands rally in support of Palestine at Zoo Lake

Health and humanitarian aid organisation workers voice outrage over bombing of Gaza

By Ihsaan Haffejee

4 December 2023

The young and the elderly in Joburg came out to call for an end to the killing in Gaza.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Johannesburg on Sunday to demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinian people. This comes after a truce between Israel and Hamas to exchange prisoners and hostages ended, and the Israeli Defence Forces continued its war in Gaza. According to Al Jazeera, Palestinian officials have reported more than 800 people killed in Gaza since Saturday.

Demonstrators unfurled a huge Palestinian flag as they made their way around the Zoo Lake area demanding a ceasefire in Gaza and pledging to continue protesting until Palestinians are free.

“The only thing we can do is provide solidarity and support for the people of Palestine in their hour of need, to show them that they are not alone and we are with them in the struggle, and we will be with them till the end,” said Ibrahim Karolia, from Palestine Solidarity Alliance.

He said the international community must increase pressure on Israel to stop bombing Gaza.

A huge Palestinian flag was unfurled as the demonstrators made their way down Jan Smuts Avenue.

Aid organisation Gift of the Givers also attended the rally. Its regional head in Gaza, Ahmed Abbasi, was killed alongside his brother in an Israeli airstrike last month.

Ibrahim Ayesh, a Palestinian who works for the organisation, said the situation in Gaza had been a humanitarian crisis for some time already.

“The aid that enters Gaza now does not even reach 5% of what the Gaza strip needs,” said Ayesh.

“Our team is facing challenges moving around Gaza due to the damaged roads and constant bombing of the Palestinian people. But our team continues to risk their lives and they will continue to do so, to reach as many people in need as possible,” said Ayesh.

A group of health workers also lent their voices to the protest, condemning the killing of hundreds of doctors, nurses and health workers in Gaza as well as the bombing of hospitals.

Neuropsychiatrist Dr Sandra Fernandes, representing Healthcare Workers for Palestine, said, “I want to express my outrage and horror due to the 247 healthcare workers that have been killed, and the indiscriminate bombing of hospitals, clinics and civilians and vulnerable people in Gaza.”