Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal told a government-endorsed rally in South Africa on Wednesday that the wave of stabbing attacks against Israelis would continue.
Referring to the terror attacks as “the Jerusalem intifada,” Mashaal told a crowd of several hundred supporters waving Hamas’s white-and-green flag in Cape Town that “the uprisings shall continue until freedom is achieved and the land is for Palestine and its people.”
He compared the Palestinian cause to the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.
“South Africa, you have achieved your freedom, the people of Palestine are aspiring to attain their freedom,” he said. “Do not expect that they should stop with the uprising, do not expect that they should stop with the resistance.”
Hamas is an Islamist terror group that openly seeks the destrucion of Israel.
Hamas’s spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, echoed Mashaal’s words late Wednesday, saying that day’s terror attacks in Jerusalem and Hebron “proved that all the tricks used to disrupt the intifada are doomed to failure.”
The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem has expressed “shock and outrage” at South Africa’s hosting of the terror group’s leaders, and on Monday summoned South Africa’s deputy ambassador “for a reprimand,” ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said.
The ANC’s invitation to Hamas “provided a tailwind for terrorism and blatantly and crudely ignored the position of the international community, which considers Hamas a terror organization,” Nahshon fumed.
The Hamas delegation, which also included Mashaal’s deputy Moussa Abu Marzouk, was welcomed at the airport Monday by the ANC’s deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, according to a senior ANC official.
“It is to demonstrate that the African National Congress is willing to talk to all people who are positive in terms of their attainment of self-determination and nationhood in Palestine,” the official told SABC News.
Mantashe, the ANC secretary-general, said Monday that his party has signed a “letter of intent” with Hamas. “We have an intention of building a long-lasting relationship,” he said at a press conference with Mashaal, calling the delegation’s visit “very important.”
According to a Twitter feed affiliated with the ANC, Mashaal said during the Monday press conference that his organization opposes the “killing of innocent people,” but also called for a struggle against Israel.
“We are insisting with our people to finish this apartheid regime. This racist occupation should be put to an end,” Mashaal was quoted as saying.
The South African Zionist Federation “condemns in the strongest terms possible the fact that a delegation representing the Hamas Central Committee will be visiting South Africa as the honored guests of the ruling party,” a statement by the group read.
“During these past few weeks of barbaric violence targeting Israel, Hamas has enthusiastically endorsed the cold-blooded murder of Israeli civilians and instigated dozens of lethal attacks against them,” the statement continued.
The African National Congress has long been supportive of the Palestinians’ struggle against Israel and exceedingly critical of Israeli policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians.
“Contrary to what is claimed, the ideology, values, aims and strategies of Hamas are diametrically opposed to the principles of the ANC, as embodied in the Freedom Charter,” the Zionist Federation declares in the statement.
At a recent summit, the ANC party reaffirmed its support for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Hamas, by contrast, does not support, nor has it ever supported, the creation of an independent Palestinian state co-existing in peace alongside Israel. Instead, its charter explicitly stipulates that no negotiated settlement is possible in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians with Jihad being the only solution,” the Zionist Federation statement read. “Simply speaking, Hamas wishes to destroy Israel altogether and seeks to establish an Islamist dictatorship in its place.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.