South Africa donates Mandela’s statue to Palestinians

Johannesburg donates Nelson Mandela’s bronze statue which symbolizes the struggle against apartheid to Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Palestinian and South African officials stand next to a giant statue of Nelson Mandela during its inauguration ceremony in the West Bank city of Ramallah on April 26, 2016.

Palestinians on Tuesday inaugurated a giant statue of Nelson Mandela, donated by the South African city of Johannesburg, at their political capital in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The six-metre two-tonne bronze statue was a gift from Johannesburg with which Ramallah is twinned.

"I think that Nelson Mandela himself would have been extremely proud of what has been done today," Parks Tau, the mayor of the South African city said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also attended the ceremony at the renamed Nelson Mandela Square in the Al Tireh district.

Mandela, who died in 2013, was South Africa's first president after the era of apartheid, a regime of segregation that the Palestinians accuse Israel of also imposing.

He was an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause and a champion for Middle East peace.

Palestinian and South African officials pose in front of a giant statue of Nelson Mandela during its inauguration ceremony in the West Bank city of Ramallah on April 26, 2016. (AFP)

Ramallah installed huge posters several days ago, celebrating the South African leader and bearing his comment "we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians."

Ramallah mayor Mussa Hadid said the statue "symbolises the shared suffering" of the South African and Palestinian peoples.

During its journey to the pedestal in the West Bank, the statue was retained by Israeli customs for 30 days, as the Palestinian Authority does not control its own borders.

"Nelson Mandela, who had already spent 28 years in the jails of the apartheid regime in South Africa, was again detained for 30 days by the Israeli authorities," Hadid said.

Tau said Israeli customs had sought duty "equivalent to 10 times the price of the statue," but that this was not paid.

Hadid said the statue sent "a clear message to the Israeli coloniser and occupier - that we are closer to freedom than you think."

Meanwhile two Palestinians were killed in East Jerusalem and the Israeli-occupied West Bank for allegedly carrying out stabbing attacks.

The incident is the latest in a wave of violence in which Israeli authorities killed at least 200 Palestinians since October, some 28 Israelis have also died during clashes.

An Israeli soldier who shot dead a wounded Palestinian in the Israeli-occupied West Bank last month was charged with manslaughter by a military court.

He was released days later to spend the Jewish holiday of Passover at home with his family, an act that erupted a burst of online debate.

Israeli soldiers carry the dead body of one of two Palestinians whom the Israeli military said were shot dead by Israeli troops after allegedly attacking an Israeli soldier, in the West Bank city of Hebron, March 24, 2016. (Reuters)


TRTWorld and agencies