Cape Town - In a gesture of “radical hope” and protest, St George’s Cathedral Dean Father Michael Weeder has begun a fast in solidarity with the people of Palestine, and as a cry for a sustained and permanent ceasefire in Gaza.
The start of the fast coincides with the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, commemorated annually on November 29, and the church’s weekly vigils in solidarity with the people of Palestine held at the cathedral steps, often the grounds of solidarity and protest.
Today, a number of mobilisations will take place across the country in solidarity with Palestine, demanding an end to the “occupation and genocide”, and for a permanent ceasefire.
While a four-day humanitarian pause mediated by Qatar, Egypt, and the US was put in place last Friday morning, and a two day extension later announced on Monday, there remain global mobilisations for a permanent ceasefire.
Save the Children NGO said the fragile pause enabled the release of 58 hostages from Gaza and 117 Palestinian women and children detained in Israeli prisons, including 87 minors.
In spite of the pause, violence at the hands of Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) continued in the West Bank and Gaza, resulting in the deaths of seven Palestinians including four children in the West Bank.
The IDF also opened fire and threw tear gas at people attempting to return to their homes in the north of Gaza during the pause, killing one and injuring several.
The NGO expressed concern that while 117 Palestinian children and women were released from Israeli military detention, at least 112 more Palestinians in the West Bank have been newly detained.
Weeder will spend some nights sleeping in the Link section of the cathedral, to make visible the intention and call for peace.
He said the plan would be to fast until December 20-22 and that this would be reviewed on the anniversary of his ordination into the priesthood on December 15.
“Prayer, in all our faith traditions, is the most basic way that a human being can aspire to be hopeful, to lament what is wrong, and also to protest to the highest of heavens – this is too much,” Weeder said.
“Again in all faith traditions, one believes in radical hope and radical hope is the small steps we all can take by the grace of our Creator to summit the mountains of despair. So hope is when you are able to counter the despair and fasting is one way of registering hope. That one is not defeated,” Weeder said.
“To fast in the context of calling for peace in the Levant is a public protest. It’s a protest against who is giving the orders to the soldier to pull the trigger, to detonate the bomb and the counter response, whether you call it the violence of the onslaught or the violence of defence, it is a protest against that.”
In September, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa adopted a resolution to declare Israel an apartheid state.