The African National Congress (ANC), South Africa’s ruling party hosted members of a Hamas delegation, including its leader Khaled Meshaal in Cape Town on Wednesday.
The delegation was invited for a three day visit to South Africa and met with South African civil society and Islamic groups at a Palestine solidarity rally in Cape Town on their third day.
South African President Jacob Zuma and Meshaal signed a collaboration agreement on Monday and exchanged gifts.
"It is state-sponsored crime from the people of Israel on Palestine," a provincial ANC Chairman Marius Fransman said at Wednesday’s rally.
"People close their eyes, we are taking a stand. We have to reaffirm the message of the unity of the oppressed masses," he added.
Some 2,000 people from ANC, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) and other South African civil society organisations gathered at the meeting with the delegation.
"The ANC in the Western Cape is privileged to host Palestine liberation movement Hamas," ANC’s Western Cape branch asserted.
MJC Chairman Sheikh Ebrahim Gabriels said that “We will show Hamas our… support."
MJC President Ighsaan Hendricks declared their support by saying "Your leadership is our leadership and our leadership is your leadership. We believe Palestine will soon celebrate freedom."
Meshaal said that "Our leadership feels they have a presence here even though they are leading the struggle in Palestine."
He compared the Palestinians’ struggle with the apartheid regime and said that "South Africa, you have achieved your freedom, the people of Palestine are aspiring to attain their freedom."
"Our objective is simply to achieve justice," he said. "They [Israelis] try to deprive us of arms, preventing us from defending ourselves. We therefore must make our own weapons in Gaza."
He addressed that the latest uprisings in occupied Gaza and West Bank “shall continue until the freedom is achieved and the land is for Palestine and its people."
ANC has historically supported the Palestinians both during and after the apartheid era. Nelson Mandela, the late leader of the movement was an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause and a champion for peace in the Middle East .
"The ANC has a longstanding relationship with the Palestinian people and their struggle against Israeli apartheid," ANC Provincial Secretary Faiez Jacobs said.
"Our support is also witnessed locally in our participation in initiatives such as annual Israeli apartheid week, the BDS campaign and various community-led protests and activities," he added.
Israeli foreign ministry called its deputy ambassador to South Africa to protest the visit, which they claimed “encourages terror by giving some legitimacy to a terror organisation."
Aside from Israel, EU, US and Japan also blacklists Hamas as a terror organisation. However, the UN, many Arab states including Qatar, Brazil, Switzerland, Norway and Turkey do not regard Hamas as a terrorist organisation.