UWC call for urgent ceasefire, aid to Gaza welcomed

UWC council chairperson Xoliswa Daku said that their stance followed a decision by the university’s Senate.

UWC council chairperson Xoliswa Daku said that their stance followed a decision by the university’s Senate.

Published Apr 3, 2024


Activists have welcomed UWC’s council decision to publicly call for an immediate ceasefire and aid to Gaza.

UWC council chairperson Xoliswa Daku on Tuesday said that their stance followed a decision by the university’s Senate. Daku said they were affirming the institution’s “unwavering commitment to humanitarian values and social justice”.

“Following an affirmative decision by the Senate, I hereby endorse the call for an immediate ceasefire and the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Additionally, we express our solidarity with the Palestinian people, especially with the Palestinian education sector, during these challenging times.

“The decision reflects the university’s moral values, ethical commitments, and educational principles. We believe that by standing in solidarity with Palestinians and advocating for peace, we contribute to a more just and equitable society. Together, as a university community, we strive to uphold our post-apartheid vision and make a meaningful impact in the pursuit of peace and justice for all,” Daku said.

Daku added that the statement aligned with the university’s stance against apartheid and its commitment to educating against all forms of oppression, “including apartheid, settler colonialism, partition, occupation, and genocide. It is not merely a standpoint but a reaffirmation of our dedication to fostering a world where equality, justice, and human rights prevail.”

The decision comes after UCT’s Senate last month voted against a proposed Israel academic boycott.

Healthcare Workers for Palestine member Professor Usuf Chikte said: “Together with Fort Hare, the UWC council have brought out a fierce statement. We applaud them and hope it will be an example to other institutions.

They have shown the moral courage required, which is sadly lacking in the remaining apartheid structured universities in South Africa.”

Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s Martin Jansen added that while it was a positive statement, it was “long overdue, coming six months into the genocide in Gaza, given UWC’s historic reputation for being progressive and outspoken at one point”.

He said boycotts and sanctions were also “powerful tools” institutions could use to send a stronger message and called on the university to commit to a boycott of Israeli academic institutions as a means to encourage other South African institutions to follow suit.

Meanwhile, citizens from Australia, Britain and Poland were among seven people working for celebrity chef Jose Andres’s World Central Kitchen (WCK) who were killed in an Israeli air strike in central Gaza on Monday, the NGO said.

The workers, including Palestinians and a dual citizen of the US and Canada, were travelling in two armoured cars emblazoned with the WCK logo and another vehicle, WCK said in a statement.

Despite co-ordinating movements with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the convoy was hit as it was leaving its Deir al-Balah warehouse after unloading over 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza by sea, WCK said.

“This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organisations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war,” said Erin Gore, CEO of WCK. “This is unforgivable.”

Andres, who started WCK in 2010 by sending cooks and food to Haiti after an earthquake, said earlier that he was heartbroken and grieving for the families and friends of those who died.

Humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers offered its condolences to Andres, his team, and the families of the team members.

“This is part of Israel’s ‘Occupation Forces’ strategy designed to enforce death by starvation, an integral part of their genocidal plan,” it said.

The Israeli military said it was doing a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of what it called a tragic incident and pledged an investigation by “an independent, professional and expert body”.

“The IDF makes extensive efforts to enable the safe delivery of humanitarian aid, and has been working closely with WCK in their vital efforts to provide food and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza,” the military said.

Cape Times