South Africa's ruling party hosted a rally in Cape Town for a top Hamas leader on Wednesday, capping off a controversial visit by pledging to stand by Palestinians amid increasing Arab terror in Israel.
The African National Congress (ANC) invited Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and colleagues from the Islamist terror group on a three-day visit to South Africa, sparking strong criticism from Israel.
President Jacob Zuma exchanged gifts with Meshaal on Monday and signed a letter expressing support for Palestinians.
"It is state-sponsored crime from the people of Israel on Palestine," said Marius Fransman, a provincial ANC chairman, drawing cheers from the crowd in Cape Town.
"People close their eyes, we are taking a stand. We have to reaffirm the message of the unity of the oppressed masses."
Hamas supporters lined the streets near the venue, waving the terror organization's white-and-green flag.
Addressing the rally, Meshaal compared the Palestinian cause to the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, asserting that "the people of Palestine are [still] aspiring to attain their freedom."
The uprisings shall continue until the freedom is achieved and the land is for Palestine and its people," Meshaal told the audience of a few hundred people.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry summoned South Africa's Deputy Ambassador to Israel for a reprimand on Monday, in protest of the visit.
"The Foreign Ministry expresses outrage and shock in the wake of the invitation of a Hamas delegation headed by Khaled Meshaal, by the ruling party in South Africa, the ANC," Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon stated to Arutz Sheva Monday.
"This order provides a tailwind and encouragement to terrorism and blatantly and rudely ignores the position of the international community, which considers Hamas a terrorist organization."
AFP contributed to this report.