Pro-Palestinian lobby group BDS wants South African swimming team to pull out of Israeli event

BDS South Africa is piling pressure on Swimming South Africa.

The pro-Palestinian lobby group, Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions South Africa (BDS) has called out another South African sporting body to stay away from competing in Israel, a country it accuses of practising routine apartheid.

The BDS wants Swimming South Africa to pull out of the World Junior Swimming Championships to be held on September 4–9 on the basis that the country is committing atrocities against Palestinians.

It asked how a South African swimming team could participate in an event where people are killed and children are routinely detained.

“How can South Africans cheer on their junior team when they are forced to compete in a tournament hosted by an apartheid regime that has so far this year murdered more than 200 Palestinians, including at least 34 children, making 2023 the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since 2005?” the lobby group asked.

In its statement on Tuesday, the BDS also said the town where the swimming championship will be held was built after the Palestinians were forcefully expelled.

“The championships are to be hosted in the Israeli town of Netanya, built on the ruins of the Palestinian villages of Umm Khalid, Khirbat Bayt Lid, Bayyarat Hannun, Ghabat Kafr Sur, and Khirbat al-Zababida.

“The ruins of this last village stand in the shadows of the Wingate Sports Institute, where the event will take place. These Palestinian villages, together with more than 500 others, were destroyed and ethnically cleansed during the 1947/48 Nakba,” it said.

It added that Israel uses sports to cleanse its dented image as an “apartheid” state.

“The indigenous Palestinian inhabitants of this area that survived are now refugees, unable to return.

“Meanwhile Israel, like apartheid-era South Africa, uses sporting events to hide its crime against humanity of apartheid.

“Hosting an international swimming competition on colonised land, violently stolen from its Palestinian inhabitants, ‘sportwashes’ Israel’s ongoing system of apartheid, settler colonialism against the Palestinian people.”

Last month, the lobby group called out the Orlando Pirates and told the team to boycott a pre-season friendly game against Maccabi Tel Avi, a soccer team from Israel based in the capital city of the Jewish state.

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