Speaking at a rally in South Africa, Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal promised there would be more stabbing attacks against Israeli civilians, describing the wave of terror attacks as the “Jerusalem intifada,” and comparing them to South Africa’s struggle against apartheid.
“South Africa, you have achieved your freedom, the people of Palestine are aspiring to attain their freedom,” said Mashaal, as reported by the Times of Israel. “Do not expect that they should stop with the uprising, do not expect that they should stop with the resistance.”
“The uprisings shall continue until freedom is achieved and the land is for Palestine and its people,” Mashaal promised. He described Israel as an “apartheid regime”—a phrase used in the past by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry—and declared Hamas was determined to “finish” the Israeli government, putting its “racist occupation” to an end.
The Jerusalem Post adds that Mashaal announced it was the responsibility of all Palestinians to “liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestine.” The al-Aqsa Mosque, located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, figures prominently in Palestinian propaganda, including the current incitements to violence. Hamas, the supposedly more moderate Fatah party, and other groups have distributed printed and online propaganda, claiming that the Israelis were planning to restrict access to the mosque for Muslims, close it down, or begin allowing Jews to pray there.
Despite all of this rhetoric, the Jerusalem Post notes that Mashaal insisted Hamas was not a terrorist organization, claiming it stood for “moderation,” and was opposed to “ideological extremism.”
Mashaal was invited to South Africa by the African National Congress, causing the Israeli Foreign Ministry to react with “shock and outrage” and reprimand the deputy South African ambassador.
The Times of Israel reports that the ANC, which has long been supportive of the Palestinians and critical of Israel, has signed a “letter of intent” with Hamas, and intends to build what ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe describes as a “long-lasting relationship” with the Palestinian extremists.
“We are starting a relationship with Hamas… we are happy today we are together, we are formally formalizing our relationship,” declared Mantashe, according to International Business Times. “We’ll exchange delegations, we’ll share experiences and we’ll talk to each other regularly. We are discussing whether Hamas shouldn’t open an office in South Africa so we can talk.”
A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Emmanuel Nahshon, charged that the ANC’s decision to invite a Hamas delegation to Cape Town has “provided a tailwind for terrorism and blatantly and crudely ignored the position of the international community, which considers Hamas a terror organization.”
According to News24, Meshaal “received a massive welcome” at the Cape Town rally held in his honor, as “people rushed to the aisle, protected by bodyguards, to try and touch him.” The audience, “which included babies in prams, waved their ANC flags and black, red, white and green Palestinian banners.”
IBT notes that Hamas has been formally designated a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United States, Israel, Egypt, Japan, and Canada.