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RAMAPHOSA: ANC NEC CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON PALESTINIANS IN ISRAEL

RAMAPHOSA: ANC NEC CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON PALESTINIANS IN ISRAEL

Ramaphosa made the remarks while delivering the closing address on Monday after the ANC’s national executive committee meeting held over the weekend.

JOHANNESBURG – African National Congress (ANC) president Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed support for the people of Palestine amid rising tensions with Israel and deadly strikes that have claimed the lives of children.

Ramaphosa made the remarks while delivering the closing address on Monday after the ANC’s national executive committee meeting held over the weekend.

There’s been a fresh build-up in anger between Palestinians and Israelis over plans to evict Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah – that’s in east Jerusalem – to make space for Israeli settlements.

The situation escalated into violence when Israeli forces stormed the al-Aqsa mosque over the weekend as worshippers gathered for Ramadan prayers.

Since then, the two sides have clashed daily as police fired rubber bullets and Palestinians threw rocks and other objects.

Ramaphosa has reiterated South Africa’s position on the decades-long conflict.

“The NEC reaffirms its support for the people of Palestine and their struggle for freedom and self-determination. And we repeat our condemnation in the strongest terms of the unlawful evictions of the Palestinians from their homes and the brutal attacks on the Palestinian protestors at al-Aqsa mosque.”

Meanwhile, world leaders have appealed for calm after at least 22 people were killed by rocket attacks launched by Israel in response to similar strikes by the Palestinian group Hamas.

It’s being reported that at least nine children are among the dead.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken called for de-escalation: “We are very deeply concerned about the attacks we have seen and they need to stop immediately.”

SIRENS, EVACUATION

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, earlier Monday warned Israel to withdraw all its forces from the mosque compound and the east Jerusalem district of Sheikh Jarrah, where looming evictions of Palestinian families have fuelled angry protests.

Sirens wailed across Jerusalem just after the 1500 GMT deadline set by Hamas as people in Jerusalem, including lawmakers in the Knesset legislature, fled to bunkers for the first time since a 2014 Gaza conflict.

A spokesman for Hamas’ armed wing the Qassam Brigades said the rocket attacks were in response to Israeli actions in Sheikh Jarrah and around the al-Aqsa mosque.

“This is a message that the enemy must understand well: if you respond we will respond, and if you escalate we will escalate.”

A house in Beit Nekofa, about 10 kilometres (six miles) west of central Jerusalem, was also damaged by rocket fire, AFP TV reported.

An Israeli Arab died from gunshot wounds in clashes with Israeli Jews in the central city of Lod, police said Monday, without providing details.

‘ESCALATING AGGRESSION’

Fears of further chaos in the Old City had temporarily eased when Israeli organisers of a march to celebrate the Jewish state’s 1967 capture of east Jerusalem cancelled the event.

But then came the Hamas warning, followed by the rockets, which also forced the evacuation of the Western Wall and other sites.

On Monday evening, as during the previous nights since Friday, Palestinians hurled rocks at Israeli officers in riot gear who fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas.

That came after morning clashes which left the ground littered with rocks, stun grenade fragments and other debris as loud booms and angry screams echoed from the ancient stone walls.

There were dozens of newly wounded demonstrators. The Palestinian Red Crescent said at least 395 Palestinians were wounded, including more than 200 who were hospitalised, five of them in critical condition.

Siraj, 24, was wheeled into surgery at the large Makassed Hospital after suffering a spleen injury from being hit by a rubber bullet.

“They shot everyone, young and old people,” he said.

Makassed director general Adnan Farhoud said most of Monday’s injuries were to the head, chest, and upper and lower limbs.

When “you mean to harm someone you shoot to the head”, he told AFP.

The Israeli police reported 32 injuries in their ranks.

The violence since Friday has been fuelled by a long-running bid by Jewish settlers to evict several Palestinian families from their nearby Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in annexed east Jerusalem.

A Supreme Court hearing on a Palestinian appeal in the case originally set for Monday was pushed back by the justice ministry due to the tensions.

Additional reporting by AFP.