The leader of a South African opposition party, Julius Malema has said Hamas should “shoot to kill”, adding that Nelson Mandela “did the same thing”.
The leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which has received growing support, mostly from younger people, ahead of South Africa’s elections next year said during a protest march to the Israeli embassy in Pretoria.
“People came and took the land of the Palestinians, and they have nothing to lose but their chains. They must stand up and fight for their freedom.”
The 42-year-old said that he heard some “fools” saying that Hamas could not be compared with South Africa’s anti-apartheid leaders, and he named several, including Mandela, adding: “They were the same, they did the same thing” as Hamas.
He predicted the EFF would win elections which are scheduled for next May and said South Africa would then ensure Hamas had sufficient arms and equipment “to fight for their people’s freedom”.
Malema was expelled from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) where he was leader of the party’s youth wing in 2011. He went on to form the EFF the following year and the party now has 51 members of South Africa’s 400-seat parliament.
It regularly interrupts the opening of parliament with security aides forcing many of the party’s members out of the House.
Mr Malema said that when the EFF came to power it would ensure the Israeli embassy in South Africa is closed: “We can’t stay in the same murderous area, breathe the same air with people who kill innocent people.”
He called on McDonald’s, which operates widely in South Africa, to explain why it was feeding soldiers in Israel. He also namechecked the country’s upmarket retail chain, Woolworths, which he called on to remove all Israeli products from its stores.
“Comrades, start identifying where McDonald’s is found, start identifying where Woolworths is found.
“From now onwards we are collecting intelligence on where all products of Israel are being sold and we have to go to visit them and tell them that you have until the end of this month to remove everything from Israel or else we will remove it for you,” Mr Malema threatened.
He also called on all South Africa’s universities and research institutions to cut any ties with Israel.
But he said, the EFF had no problems with Jewish people: “We are not saying we do not want Jews…”