Retired South African Indian-origin diplomat Ismail Coovadia succumbs to COVID-19

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Johannesburg, May 23 (PTI) Veteran South African Indian-origin activist and retired diplomat Ismail Coovadia on Sunday succumbed to COVID-19-related complications, a week after contracting the disease.

He was 72.

Coovadia, an African National Congress veteran of the freedom struggle, was renowned for his opposition to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory despite having served as South Africa’s Ambassador to Israel for several years.

During an address in Tel Aviv on South Africa’s Freedom Day in April 2012, Coovadia reminded the Israeli government of the concern of his government about the lack of progress towards the two-state solution that South Africa supported.

“My minister, like others, has expressed her concern that the patience exercised by the people of Palestine is wearing out and there is mounting fear that hope will soon be replaced with hardened attitudes,” Coovadia had said then.

Coovadia was also recalled for a while in 2010 by South Africa after the Israeli military attack, in international waters, on a Turkish ship attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, as a strong statement of the country’s view of the incident.

After his retirement in 2013, Coovadia denounced an announcement that 18 trees had been planted in his name in South Africa Forest, one of several diplomatic parks started by the multi-national Jewish National Fund.

'Regrettably, my permission was not sought to plant a tree in my or the name of a South African ambassador on usurped land; the rightful land of the Palestinians and Bedouins. I was not a party to, and never will be, to the planting of trees in my 'honour' on expropriated and stolen land.

'In view of this inhuman act against ordinary people, I shall be returning the 'certificate' to the director general of the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs with a humble request to remove the trees,” Coovadia said at the time.

Coovadia was buried by Muslim rites on Sunday. PTI FH AMS