Palestinian leaders: Mandela is a symbol of freedom from 'Israeli occupation'

PA president says former South African president's goals have not been reached as long as "Palestinians are not free."

Former South African President Nelson Mandela  (photo credit: Reuters)
Former South African President Nelson Mandela
(photo credit: Reuters)
Palestinian leaders are saying Nelson Mandela's difficult journey is a symbol of Israeli "occupation,"and if he was victorious in his fight for liberation, the Palestinians can be as well, AFP reported on Friday.
World leaders mourned the loss of former South African President and human rights advocate Mandela , who died at the age of 95 on Thursday.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday paid tribute to Mandela following the announcement of his death, calling him a "symbol of freedom from colonialism and occupation."
"The Palestinian people will never forget his historic statement that the South African revolution will not have achieved its goals as long as the Palestinians are not free," AFP quoted Abbas saying. 
"Apartheid did not prevail in South Africa, and apartheid shall not prevail in Palestine," wrote incarcerated Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti in an "open letter" to Mandela, according to AFP.
Barghouti is currently serving five life sentences in prison for masterminding a series of terror attacks against Israelis, and has been referred to by journalists as the "Palestinian Nelson Mandela" in his fight for a Palestinian state.
"You said: 'We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians," Barghouti wrote. "And from within my prison cell, I tell you our freedom seems possible because you reached yours." 
Hamas spokesman Mussa Abu Marzuq reportedly described Mandela as "one of the most important symbols of freedom and one of the most important supporters of the Palestinian people's cause."