The month of April brought with it the holy month of Ramadan for the Muslims, the holy time of Easter for Christians, and the holy period of Passover or Pesach for the Jewish people. With this intersection of significant religious periods of the abrahamic faiths also came continued aggression and violence against these communities in Palestine. As we have witnessed in the past during Ramadan, we saw the Israeli military force embark on a campaign of targeted attacks against the Muslim and Christian Palestinians. Despite these targeted and violent attacks on Al Aqsa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Palestinians persevered and continued to fight against the occupying regime and show defiance; with 'Existence is Resistance' being the war cry they rallied behind. We salute the bravery of the Palestinians with their continued resilience in the face of the daily acts of terror enacted against them. Despite living under illegal occupation and facing war crimes and human rights violations daily, the Palestinians continue to have hope and ensure that their voices are heard globally.
In order to share the lived experiences of the Palestinians and aid in the amplification of their voices and stories, we hosted a daily Ramadan programme in partnership with Salaam Media. The programme was hosted by Moulana Luqman Skink during the Iftaar Drive show and hosted a guest from Palestine who then shared their stories with the listeners. We heard live updates from the ground in Hebron and Jerusalem of the attacks happening there, first-hand accounts of students and the youth who were imprisoned by the Israeli Apartheid regime for protesting on campus, farmers who have witnessed their farms, lands, and, villages being taken over by Israeli settlers, and from Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions activists speaking about the importance of the BDS movement. Recordings of each session can be found on our website. Besides our Ramadan radio programme, we also hosted a mass inter-faith Iftaar in SOWETO. We would like to thank our members, supporters, donors, and funders who continue to support the work that we do. We are able to continue the work for a free Palestine because of your support and contributions. If you would like to continue to support us, you can find more information here.
We will continue to fight for the liberation of Palestine and for the Right of Return for all Palestinians until we can visit a free Palestine in our lifetime. Aluta Continua! #InOurLifetime
Jerusalem Under Attack
Attacks on Palestinian Religious Sites during Ramadan, Easter, and Passover
Mahmoud Illean/Associated Press
The Apartheid State of Israel lay bare its racism this past month. In brazen displays of violence, discrimination, and subjugation, the state made it clear that it is an ethno-nationalist state and it aims to ethnically cleanse the diverse religious heritage of Jerusalem. Despite this, Palestinians banded together to defend the Old City against colonial plunder. Hundreds of thousands gathered together for prayers at Al-Aqsa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in proud defiance against the apartheid regime’s restrictions and brutality.
This year, the Islamic holy month of Ramadan coincided with Christians’ commemoration of Easter as well as the Jewish Passover celebrations. Rather than enabling a festive environment for members of different faiths to express their spirituality, Apartheid Israel desecrated the non-Jewish religions and brutalised worshippers. Its system of discrimination and subjugation reared its ugly face as the rights of non-Jewish nationals were trampled upon throughout the month.
The attacks began in the wake of Zionist groups’ illegal and provocative calls to desecrate Al-Aqsa by slaughtering animals in its courtyards during the Jewish Passover holiday. These groups were aided and abetted by the occupation forces, who secured their passage into the compound and facilitated increased Jewish visits to Al-Aqsa. At the same time, Muslims from across Palestine were restricted from entering the area. As tensions mounted, Israeli occupation forces waged a brutal assault on Al-Aqsa, starting on the 13th of April and continuing through the rest of the month.
Israeli occupation forces stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque on several occasions, injuring at least 300 Palestinians, and arresting nearly a thousand others during Ramadan. These savage attacks were a brazen display of unbridled colonial power, and an expression of a culture of hate by Israel in the ongoing war against Palestinians. Journalists with visible identification were deliberately shot in their line of duty, while ambulances and medical staff were prevented from entering the mosque compound. The aim of the Israeli assault is to erase the presence, identity, memory, and any sign or symbol of a Palestinian relationship to their native land in the attempts by Zionist forces to Judaize Palestine.
Christians are by no means exempt from Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. Since 1948, Palestine’s Christian population has reduced from eighteen percent to less than two percent of the total. Those who remain are subject to significant repression, and the occupation’s attacks on Orthodox worshippers at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre bears testament to this. According to Christian tradition, the church is located at the site where Jesus is believed to have been crucified, buried, and resurrected. It carries special significance during the Easter period, but Israel holds scant regard for this. Palestinian Christians were separated and then barred from entering their church to commemorate the traditional Holy Fire ceremony held on the eve of Orthodox Easter each year.
Despite the repression, Palestinians have united together with electrifying spirit. Eid Celebrations saw nearly half a million gather in and around the Old City, and the streets overflowed with joy and laughter in the face of repression. Muslims and Christians, young and old, gathered en-masse to defend their freedom and resist racism. Their courageous spirit was warmly captured by the words of Father Manuel Musallam, who incited the population to stand up for the sanctity of Palestinian heritage. “Al-Aqsa is calling on you and its eyes are weeping. So do not fail it… We will die strong with our heads up around Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City. We will never hand over the keys of these holy sites at any price.”
As South Africans, we need to draw inspiration from the Palestinian people. We must escalate our support for Palestinians and in their defence of Al-Aqsa. The feeble South African government’s condemnation of Israel has rarely moved beyond rhetoric. Zionist hate-groups, like the Jewish National Fund, raise funds for ethnic cleansing and promote the propaganda of an apartheid state. There should be no place for organisations like these in our constitutional democracy. We have spent decades fighting against institutionalised racism in South Africa. The attacks on Al-Aqsa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are a stark reminder that there is still a lot of work to be done. The Palestinians, however, have blazed the trail and shown us that, indeed, this work will be done.
Resistance in Jenin
Rima Mustafa/Al Jazeera
Mohammad Zakarneh – seventeen. Brutally killed during Israeli Occupation Forces’ “clampdown on terror” in Jenin’s refugee camps. Hanan Khadour – eighteen. Murdered in cold blood by Israeli gunfire during a raid in the Faqqu’a town of Jenin. These teenagers are just two of Jenin’s eight martyrs who lost their lives in April. They are two of fifteen killed in Jenin this year. They are two of Israel, together with the Palestinian Authority, have fuelled a bloodbath in Jenin. Israeli forces have been given free reign over the city, ostensibly to target twenty-five resistance fighters – but actually targeting the entire population. Young people like Hanan and Mohammed have their lives on the line as Israeli forces use civilian casualties as a method of collective punishment against any forms of resistance.
Jenin has been deemed the “hornet’s nest,” with hundreds of Palestinians from the city fearlessly resisting Israeli forces’ continued colonisation and brutalisation. Jenin’s resistance against occupation and IOF violence has become an inspiration to the rest of the West Bank. The events it has gone through has led to a rising sense of inspiration, with a conscious sense of readiness and high morale amongst the people. “We have realised that we will not lose and that there is nothing to lose. The only path the Israeli occupation has left us to take is the path of resistance,” says Atta Abu Rmeileh, the Secretary of the Fatah Movement in Jenin.
Abu Rmeileh’s praise of Jenin’s resistance is unfortunately not espoused by those of higher rank in his party. The Palestinian Authority (PA), under the leadership of Fatah Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, is known to collaborate with Israeli authorities to facilitate continuous incursions, assassinations, arrests, siege and suffering inside the occupied Jenin camp. Most recently, the PA has ordered its security services to take action against anti-occupation armed resistance activities. Reports suggest that Abbas takes a page out of the Zionist playbook by regarding such resistance as “chaos that undermines the flow of life and investment opportunities.”
Betrayed by the ruling party and brutalised by the occupation – the new generation in Jenin feel an increased sense of hopelessness under the current system. Israeli authorities have butchered all their ambitions and have made it clear that the occupation has no interest in peace. Left without an economic or political horizon, coupled with the martyrdom of so many young people, there is a growing sense of anger and agitation amongst the youth. The stress of this generation has created an explosion.
Resistance, however, is persistently met with revenge by Israeli forces. As if it were a game, Israel began raids on the twentieth anniversary of the 2002 Jenin Massacre, when Occupation forces killed fifty-two Palestinians, before being expelled by victorious freedom fighters in the second intifada. Since then, Israeli authorities have attempted to collectively punish the city.
Despite collective punishment and the immense drain that the occupation places on hopes for a just future for the people of Jenin, they have failed to drain the morale of the resistance against occupation. The resistance in Jenin will not lay still as Israeli forces brutalise its people. They are left with no choice but to fight. What are you to do when all hopes for a better future are lost to the barrel of an Israeli gun? What are you to do when a soldier decides on your peoples fate? The young people of Jenin fight because the only other option given to them by the Israeli authorities is extinction.
Why we need to take climate change seriously
We commemorated Earth Day on the 22nd of April, recognising that climate change and environmental damage cannot be divorced from the warmongering, settler-colonial Zionist state. This point was particularly salient as we bore witness to the devastation wreaked upon thousands of South Africans due to floods in Kwa-Zulu Natal. The consequences of failed infrastructure and uneven development made it clear how climate change disproportionately hurts those who are already systemically oppressed. In South Africa, the poor are the most vulnerable to damage caused by floods, droughts, and disease. In Palestine, it is the Palestinians.
Israel’s project of ethnic cleansing is deliberately designed to make life unliveable for the indigenous population of Palestine. Environmental terrorism plays an enormous part in this. Since 1948, Israel has systematically deprived Palestinians of access to water, agriculture, and other natural resources. Today, 97 percent of Gaza’s water is undrinkable and 85 percent of West Bank water resources are controlled by Israel. A third of Palestinians in the West Bank, and over two-thirds of those in Gaza, are food insecure. This dire humanitarian situation leaves Palestinians most vulnerable to the harmful effects of climate change.
The temperature in Palestine is predicted to increase by 4.8 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. On top of the harsh conditions they already face, Palestinians must contend with increased risks of soil degradation, food insecurity, and destruction from floods and droughts. These risks have been cruelly exacerbated by Israel, who have uprooted ancient sustainable agricultural communities, flooded the occupied territories with waste and mined its non-renewable resources to near-depletion.
Israel often sells itself as an environmentally friendly state to deflect attention from its human rights violations. In actual fact, Israel is a significant contributor to climate change and environmental degradation. Its per capita ecological footprint ranks in the top ten percent globally, and it is nearly seven times larger than that of the Palestinian territories. As part of the ongoing Nakba, Israel has uprooted hundreds of thousands of indigenous trees, razed farmlands, and bulldozed agricultural villages. Through the Jewish National Fund (JNF), Israel attempts to cover-up their wholesale violence by building parks over destroyed Palestinian villages. Israel’s environmental impact is deeply intertwined in the fabric of the state. It is deeply intertwined in colonial dispossession, apartheid, and its military industrial complex.
According to Friends of the Earth Palestine, war causes up to 30 percent of the total environmental damage worldwide. The role of the Israeli war machine in this cannot be understated. Israel’s repeated attacks on Gaza’s infrastructure illustrates this severe impact. Last year’s attacks severely impacted the three main desalination plants in Gaza city. In 2014, Israel set fire to two million litres of diesel when it shelled Gaza’s only power plant. Israel’s hand in the destruction of people and the environment is multiplied when you consider that it is one of the largest weapons traders in the world. There is scarcely a war on this planet that does not have Israel’s fingerprints on it.
This is even more concerning when considering Israel’s stockpile of nuclear warheads. At a time when war in Ukraine garners lots of attention because of Russia’s status as a nuclear powerhouse, we forget that for Israel, such wars of aggression are routine. As a country that has developed the capacity to vaporise swathes of the Middle East in an instant, there can be little doubt that its tree-planting antics are meaningless. Israel’s refusal to sign any nuclear non-proliferation treaty makes mockery of any claims it has to be concerned about the environment, let alone peace.
No commemoration of Earth Day is complete without remembrance of the millions of Palestinians who have had their land stolen and destroyed by Apartheid Israel. Humans’ degradation of the planet has put us at the precipice of doom. Paradoxically, it is those who have contributed the least to this crisis are those who are most vulnerable to its effects. As we mourn close to 450 victims of the KZN floods, we fear for the millions of Palestinians who Israel has placed at risk. We condemn the blatant hypocrisy of the Israeli regime, which portends to care for a land it has so violently desecrated. We note that the struggle for Palestinian rights and environmental rights are entwined. There can be no climate justice while Israel remains a nuclear power. There can be no climate justice under land dispossession, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid.
Palestinian Prisoners' Day
Resistance cannot be chained
Palestinian Prisoner’s Day is commemorated on the 17th of April annually. On this day, we pay tribute to all those who are incarcerated by Israel’s apartheid regime. We salute their resilience under conditions of extreme depravity, brutality, and injustice. Time and time again, Palestinian prisoners have shown us that the oppressor will not win. Through torture, solitary confinement, and the most inhumane forms of cruelty, Palestinians’ spirits remain undeterred. Their ardent desire to fight for justice – even from within the confines of a prison cell – is something we all wish to emulate.
This month, in particular, we raised our voices in support of Ahmad Manasra and Amal Nakhleh – young people who were imprisoned as children and remain there as adults, facing torture, brutality, and deprivation. We also hosted several former prisoners on our Ramadan radio programme with Salaamedia, shedding light on the tools of repression used by the occupation, and the tools of resistance used by Palestinians. As the PSA, we are proud to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners’ movement, the Palestinian people, and their resistance in the struggle for liberation.
Prisons have been an important site of struggle against the occupation. Palestinians have recognised that the Zionist regime will go to any length to suppress dissent, and it is for that reason that we must express dissent everywhere. Currently, around five thousand Palestinians are detained in Israeli prisons, subject to the most inhumane treatment. These prisoners do not have the same rights as Israeli prisoners. They are routinely isolated, receive little sunlight, and medical negligence is common. A report by Al-Mezan shows that ninety-one percent of children who were arrested for trying to flee Gaza were tortured by Israeli authorities. Since 2015, over nine thousand Palestinian children have been arrested.
The story of Ahmad Manasra gained global attention last month. Manasra was arrested at the age of thirteen and sentenced for attempted murder. While the courts acknowledged that Ahmad did not participate in the attack, they sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment nonetheless. Manasra’s conviction meant that he was not eligible for parole, since the boy was designated as a terrorist. This changed with a major victory when the courts granted him eligibility for parole last month. This only happened after an international campaign mobilised public outcry and political pressure calling for the 20-year-old’s release under the hashtag, #FreeAhmadManasra.
Another important prisoner who has just spent his eighteenth birthday in prison is Amal Nakhleh. Nakhleh has been detained under administrative detention since 21 January 2021, without charge or trial. On top of this, he suffers from a rare autoimmune disease that requires continuous medical treatment. Israel’s record of medical negligence and psychological torture of prisoners is well documented. Nakhleh’s health has deteriorated significantly and the United Nations has called for his immediate release. Nakhleh is finally due to be released on the 18th of May, but Israeli military courts can extend his imprisonment at any time. It is important that we stand firmly in solidarity with him and his family to place any pressure we can that will call for his release.
Alongside Nakhleh, there are approximately 530 Palestinian prisoners under administrative detention today. These prisoners have mobilised against this system and embarked on a boycott of the Israeli military judicial system. For over a hundred days, prisoners refused to participate in military court procedures that lack due process. Many Palestinian prisoners have also waged hunger strikes, medicine boycotts, and other acts of civil disobedience in a proud display of defiance in the face of inhumane treatment.
Together with the Tambo-Dadoo Palestine Legal Fund, as well as Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights the PSA are embarking on programmes to provide support to Palestinian political prisoners and their families. Like the world campaigned for the release of Nelson Mandela and his compatriots, so too do we intend to campaign for the release of all Palestinian prisoners. The call for Palestinian freedom resounds from the river to the sea, and it is up to us to make sure that it echoes around the world.
Miguel Chicane at the PSA IAW Poetic Resistance poetry evening [image: Marta Garrich]
As bombs drop on Gaza
In the midst of Ramadan
Filling the children of that land lungs with white phosphorus
Their nose, the scent of burnt flesh
With Palestinian blood being seen as disposable
Schoolchildrens' lives lost
To the barrel of an Israeli gun
OVER 80 JUST LAST YEAR
This, the reality of millions of families
From Nabi Salah to Hebron
For that is how it is, to live and die under occupation
As bulldozers crash into the children of Palestine’s homes
“We will build another one, one bigger and better than this one”
A mother tells her child as their forefathers home turns to rubble
Yet they’re nothing but a statistic once more.
For they have been told by their colonizer that the home in which their ancestors were was supposedly never theirs.
O mother Palestine.
Your children are left forgotten and oppressed
YET THEY CONTINUE TO RESIST
In a system built for their unceremonious demise For that is how it is, to live and die under occupation
Your son’s and daughters are called terrorists for resisting planned extinction
For their skin isn't a shade light enough for them to be called heroes
For its either they resist or they are ripped away from their home
By dogs with tounges of velvet scarlet
Your children fight a rigged system
Tearing away the chains of oppression
Dismantling capitalist narratives of western media ALUTA they scream
For the empire of blood is falling Um paso al a vez
Yet our brothers are still missing
Imprisoned like cattle in segregated jail’s without charge
Isolated from the world beyond the gates of Galboa
For that is how it is, to live and die under occupation
Yet our sisters are used and abused
By scavenging warriors of apartheid
Their legs forced open by these cowards
Leaving scars that will never heal....
For that is how it is, to live and die under occupation
Soldiers haunted by the blood on their hands .
DO YOU NOT FEEL ASHAMED?
OR DOES YOUR REIGN OF TERROR RUSH YOUR BRAIN WITH DOPAMINE?
ALUTA THE CHILDREN OF PALESTINE SCREAM. For the empire of blood is falling.
For freedom is finally coming From the river to the sea.
Activist Profile: Nurain Saloojee
Nurain Saloojee with Palestinian youth activist Muna El-Kurd
Nurain is a core member of the Palestine Solidarity Alliance, and a leader in the Youth League. Social movements rely on the youth to weave a passionate conscience together with sharp insight. The PSA is fortunate to find this in Nurain, whose commitment to popular education inspires hope for a brighter future.
She draws inspiration from her family, who have cultivated a tradition of activism across several generations. Seeing many of her elders stand up against social injustice has ingrained a deep-seated commitment to human rights activism in her day-to-day life. Nurain has been assisted with organising several of the PSA’s recent events, and has been instrumental to our collaboration with students on campus and other youth groups.
As an audiology student, it is perhaps unsurprising that Nurain has her ears attuned to events on the ground. Her acute understanding of events in Palestine has pioneered the PSA’s success on digital platforms, helping us broaden the solidarity struggle amongst the youth and across the world.
For her, the importance of international solidarity cannot be understated. Noting that South Africa’s freedom today could not have been forged without the support of the international community, she considers it a duty to stand up against apartheid Israel as well.
Apartheid Free Zones
Give Puma the Boot
Apartheid Free Zones (AFZ) is a principled campaign to cut links of complicity with Israeli apartheid. The campaign draws inspiration from the international anti-apartheid movement for South Africa, and aims to replicate such solidarity with Palestinians.
The idea is to create spaces of proactive solidarity across the world. As people of conscience, we want to ensure that the spaces that we participate in do not contribute to the maintenance of an apartheid regime or profit from grave human rights violations. We urge all people in South Africa to make your home an Apartheid Free Zone.
One way in which you can do this is to boycott Puma. Puma is the main sponsor of the Israel Football Association (IFA), which includes teams in Israel’s illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land. In addition, Puma’s current and past exclusive licensees in Israel have operations in illegal Israeli settlements.
Boycott Pressure works! The BDS France campaign has recently secured a victory after Nimes Olympique football club decided to change its equipment supplier from next season. Make sure that you do the same by giving Puma the boot and kicking Apartheid out of your home.
What comes next?
May brings with it Nakba Day on the 15th. The Nakba is the Arabic word for ‘catastrophe’ and is used to describe the ‘catastrophe’ of 1948 when Zionist gangs perpetrated a genocidal assault on the indigenous people of Palestine, causing mass destruction, murder and the forced removal of tens of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and villages. Much of this was hidden from the world but the Palestinian Resistance movement have kept the memory alive by commemorating the Nakba and demanding the Right of Return. In order to discuss the significance of this day and bolster solidarity on the ground in South Africa, we will be hosting education and awareness workshops in numerous schools, communities, and youth organisations. If you would like to be a part of these workshops or would want us to host one with your community or school, contact us here.
In South Africa June is celebrated as Youth Month. The issues faced by the youth in South Africa link to the issues faced by the youth in Palestine. Lack of access to education and youth unemployment are amongst the numerous issues which link youth struggles across the continents. In order to bolster youth solidarity between the two countries, PSA is a part of a global student network which links students and the youth from South Africa to not just Palestine but the rest of the African continent as well. The development of this network in underway. If you would like to be a part of this network, do not hesitate to contact us. We are planning activities for the month of June around youth solidarity and activism. Keep an eye on our social media for more details of these or email us to see how you can get involved.
Over the course of the next few months, we will be launching our next few campaigns which will form the focus point for us for the rest of the year. These campaigns will include education and training workshops, media and writing workshops, anti-war and political prisoners solidarity campaign, and art and poetry showcases. If you would like to be involved in any of these, reach out to us via email or fill out our volunteer form. We look forward to engaging with you!
Donate to PSA and help us continue the work that we are doing!
If you are a supporter of a free Palestine but do not have the capacity to be actively involved in the liberation movement, you can still help and support us by donating towards our efforts. Our banking details are:
Account Name: Palestinian Solidarity Alliance
Account No: 4070101666
You can also email us on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
Our month in pictures
PSA inter-faith mass iftaar in SOWETO
PSA joined the BDS Coalition and Wits PSC at the flag demonstration held at Wits Bridge
PSA Palestinian Voices Ramadan Radio Programme, in partnership with Salaam Media
PSA and the SA BDS Coalition met with Uri Davis, member of Fatah who was visiting South Africa from Palestine
PSA and donors assisted comrades from the Thembelihle community with some food hampers
The PSA Media and Newsletter team had their first meeting to kick start thoughtful discussions on the role of media and how we can contribute towards an unbiased reporting of Palestine through our articles and writing!