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Chikane speaks out against Israeli support

Frank Chikane says world leaders have been hypocritical by backing Israel's military campaign in Gaza.

Smoke rises from fire after Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on November 19, 2012. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG/CAIRO/GAZA - Reverend Frank Chikane on Wednesday said world leaders had been hypocritical by supporting Israel's military campaign in Gaza.

Speaking at a rally organised by the Palestine Solidarity Association in Lenasia last night, Chikane also slammed the United States for its support of the Israeli government.

Chikane said it was the duty of all South Africans to speak out against the oppression of Palestinians, which he said was similar to the struggle the country endured during apartheid.

He said he was amazed that the US endorsed a military crackdown on Gaza.

"I have never understood how the world will listen to Madam Hilary Clinton saying there must be security for Israel, but something else for the Palestinians."

Chikane received resounding applause after that, as he echoed the call for the Israeli ambassador Dov Segev-Steinberg to be expelled from South Africa.

HAMAS-ISRAEL CEASEFIRE TAKES HOLD

A ceasefire between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers took hold on Thursday after eight days of conflict, although deep mistrust on both sides cast doubt on how long the Egyptian-sponsored deal can last.

Even after the ceasefire came into force late on Wednesday, a dozen rockets from the Gaza Strip landed in Israel, all in open areas, a police spokesman said.

In Gaza, witnesses reported an explosion shortly after the truce took effect at 9pm, but there were no casualties and the cause was unclear.

The deal prevented, at least for the moment, an Israeli ground invasion of the Palestinian enclave following bombing and rocket fire which killed five Israelis and 162 Gazans, including 37 children.

But trust was in short supply.

The exiled leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, said his Islamist movement would respect the truce if Israel did, but would respond to any violations.

"If Israel complies, we are compliant. If it does not comply, our hands are on the trigger," he told a news conference in Cairo.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had agreed to "exhaust this opportunity for an extended truce", but told his people a tougher approach might be required in the future.

Both sides quickly began offering differing interpretations of the ceasefire, brokered by Egypt's new Islamist government and backed by the US, highlighting the many actual or potential areas of discord.

If it holds, the truce will give 1.7 million Gazans respite from days of ferocious air strikes and halt rocket salvoes from militants that have unnerved a million people in southern Israel and reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for the first time.

Israel, the US and the European Union all classify Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

It seized the Gaza Strip from the Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007 in a brief but bloody war with his Fatah movement.