Pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups clash in South Africa

Cape Town Metro Police Department (CTMPD) officers line up pro-Palestinian supporters gesture towards them in Cape Town on November 12, 2023. PHOTO | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Numerous demonstrations in support of both sides have been held for weeks in South Africa's major cities, where the ruling ANC party has been a fervent supporter of the Palestinian cause for decades.

Cape Town.  South African police fired stun grenades and water cannons in Cape Town on Sunday to quell clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

A prayer for Israel and the Hamas hostages held in Gaza was to be held in the early afternoon in an affluent area of Cape Town on the Atlantic coast, a popular place for family walks on Sundays.

But several hundred pro-Palestinian demonstrators gate-crashed the event, following a pro-Palestinian demonstration that brought thousands of people onto the streets of the port and tourist city, according to AFP journalists on the scene.

The pro-Palestinian demonstrators wearing keffiyehs and waving Palestinian flags chased away those attending the pro-Israel prayer meet, tore up their placards and occupied the space.

Police intervened with a water cannon and sound grenades to disperse the demonstrators, then set up a roadblock to keep people out of the area.

Numerous demonstrations in support of both sides have been held for weeks in South Africa's major cities, where the ruling ANC party has been a fervent supporter of the Palestinian cause for decades.

But the country also boasts the largest Jewish community in sub-Saharan Africa, some of whom have organised vigils and demonstrations in support of Israel.

More left-wing members of the Jewish community, which played an active part in the fight against apartheid, have more often held rallies in support of the Palestinian cause.