For anti-apartheid activist June Esau, the persisting violence in Gaza which has seen thousands of women and children being killed has brought her back to the cold cell in Caledon where she was brutally assaulted by the South African apartheid police.
“I watched on social media a clip of a defenceless woman being kicked with so much force by the apartheid-Israel soldier to such an extent that her body flew up in the air.
“When she landed on the ground he rushed to it and repeatedly kicked her again. The soldiers have stolen the innocence of the Palestinian women and children.
“The genocidal Israeli government has filled their prisons with children 10 years of age and younger. They have stolen the innocence of the Palestinian child.
“What is happening in Gaza has become personal, when I watched that graphic video and saw the images for me it was personal,” said Esau.
According to Esau, the disturbing video and images took her to a place during the 1980s when she was part of a protest action led by activist Dr Allan Boesak and other apartheid martyrs to the streets.
“It took me back to a cell in Caledon Square police station where at the end of 13 hours, after being attacked and brutalised, lying there, a soldier came and stood on top of my swollen and aching body.
“That moment of watching my Palestinian sister being kicked and brutalised like that I connected with her and became one with her.
“It has become very personal, they are committing crimes against humanity in full view of the whole world. Bombing schools and hospitals, no words can describe the endless killing of children and women.
“Some parts of the world are starting to stand up, declaring they stand with the people of Palestine. We stand with you our brothers and sisters. We must continue to be intentional in this action,” she said.
Esau is one of many who suffered the same fate of arrest, solidarity confinement, the brutality of interrogation and torture by security forces.
She is the sister of renowned late Worcester Struggle stalwart Cecil Esau.
Meanwhile, as Israel air and artillery strikes continue to pound Gaza, nearly 20 South Africans are expected back in the country after crossing the enclave into Egypt.
“(At least) 19 South Africans have safely crossed into Egypt (Cairo)from Gaza.
Our missions in Palestine and Egypt, led by ambassadors Shaun Byneveldt and Ntsiki Mashimbye, worked with authorities to facilitate this.
“We are grateful for their partnership. Our nationals will now be coming home to SA,” said Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) spokesperson Clayson Monyela The official Palestinian news agency said at least 50 people were killed on Monday in an Israeli air strike that hit two schools sheltering displaced people in the north of the Gaza Strip.
The reported attack took place as Israeli bombs also rained down on southern areas of the enclave and Israeli troops and tanks pressed a ground campaign against Hamas militants in that sector.
The strike hit the Daraj neighbourhood in Gaza City, the Wafa agency said. It was not immediately possible to verify the report independently, and a spokesperson for the Israeli army said it was looking into the report.
It came as Gaza’s health ministry said that at least 15 899 Palestinians, 70% of them women or under 18s, have now been killed in Israeli air and artillery strikes on the enclave since October 7. Thousands more are missing and feared buried in rubble.
On Monday, Israel ordered Palestinians to leave parts of Gaza’s main southern city, Khan Younis.
But residents said that areas which they had been told to go to were also coming under fire.