Protesters from around the world – from Washington and London to Istanbul and as far away as Sydney – arrived in their thousands this weekend to demonstrate against Israel’s brutal crackdown on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. .
As pro-Palestinian protesters stage mass demonstrations in Muslim-majority countries, a growing number of countries across the Western world have cracked down on such demonstrations with the reason they can “disturb public order”.
Thousands of Australians ignored police threats on Sunday to join pro-Palestinian protests, where they waved Palestinian flags and chanted “Free and independent Palestine.” due”.
Hundreds of police patrolled the area around one of the largest gatherings in Sydney, the capital of Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales.
A police helicopter flies low above the event in the city’s Hyde Park. Organizers of the Palestine Action Group said about 5,000 people attended, while a Reuters witness put the number at about 2,000. October 15, 2023.
People carrying banners and flags attend a pro-Palestinian protest at Hyde Park in Sydney, Australia, October 15, 2023.
Protest The protests have taken place “”so far peacefully,” the group’s spokeswoman, Amal Naser, said, adding that police had not deployed special powers to stop and search protesters, a measure legislation they were considering for the first time in nearly two decades.
Ayah, a Palestinian living in Sydney, said she joined the protest to “be peaceful, support her country, have nothing to do with it.” to burning the flag”.
Another protester, Mustafa, whose father left Gaza in 1976, was present with his three children.
“We are not against the Jews,” he said. “They have been in Palestine for a long time, together with Muslims and Christians. We are all Palestinians. We are against the Zionists.”
Protest organizers say they plan to march through central Sydney next weekend.
Thousands of people also protested at pro-Palestinian rallies in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, and Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, the Guardian Australia news website reported.
End the occupation
Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in the US capital on Saturday, marching in front of the White House and chanting “Free Palestine”. Protester Linda Houghton told Agence France-Presse (AFP): “What is happening today is simply unacceptable. “Sadly, we see people being killed by an army that this country supports.”
Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of the Gaza Strip, in response to a surprise attack by Hamas last Saturday, has so far claimed the lives of nearly 2,400 people, mostly civilians, in Gaza.
Israel has also cut off food, water and electricity supplies to Gaza’s 2.4 million residents. “I wish we could all do something, I wish we could stop the war, just stop it,” said Ahmed Abed, one of the protesters who marched through downtown Washington under a sea of Palestinian flags. just war”.
“They are in prison,” he said of the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Signs carried by marchers included messages such as “End the occupation” and “Cease-fire now.”
In New York, home to the world’s largest Jewish population outside of Israel, hundreds gathered in Brooklyn on Friday wielding a banner emblazoned with the message “Jews Say Stop Genocide Against Palestinians.”
Jewish New Yorkers have been split, with some voices urging Israel to defend itself and others increasingly warning of “Palestinian genocide.”
On the other side of the country, more than 1,000 pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched in Los Angeles on Saturday, local media reported.
Thousands march in London
Thousands of protesters also held a large demonstration in London’s Portland Place center on Saturday. They shouted “Free Palestine” and demanded an immediate end to Israeli airstrikes and the blockade of Gaza.
Organized by several groups, including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the protest took place under a heavy police presence with more than 1,000 officers deployed to ensure security and went smoothly. Share for the protest.
The crowd then marched to the Prime Minister’s office in Downing Street to denounce the British government’s support for Israel.
They chanted slogans against the Israeli occupation, carrying Palestinian flags and signs, some with the words:
“Freedom for Palestine”, “Sanctions against Israel” and “Stop arming Israel”.
Addressing the crowd, Palestinian Ambassador to the UK Husam Zomlot said the Palestinian flag has become a global symbol of the struggle for rights.
Mentioning that the actual number of casualties in Gaza was much higher, he added:
“Israel indiscriminately bombs civilian infrastructure, homes, hospitals, schools, entire residential areas .”
Referring to Friday’s attack that killed more than 70 Palestinians, he said it was a “war crime”.
“Israel has cut off food, water, electricity and fuel supplies to Gaza residents and 2.3 million Palestinian residents of Gaza. This is a war crime.”
Former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was right to condemn the killings of civilians, which constitute “war crimes under international law”.
“But it is also right to condemn Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine,” he said.
He added that the occupation of the West Bank and the settlements must also be condemned and fought.
“Our demand is an end to the occupation, an end to the bombing of Gaza,” Corbyn said, adding that cutting off electricity, water and food “is also a war crime”.
Kate Hudson, head of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, notes that Gaza residents have been forced to move south. She said Israel attacked the roads and killed hundreds of people.
What is happening in Gaza is “collective punishment and a war crime,” Hudson added.
“We need justice”
Maggie Dunn, a protester, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that what is happening in Gaza has left them “completely heartbroken.”
“I absolutely condemn what Israel is doing, (it is) just genocide,” she said.
Regarding Israel’s siege of Gaza by cutting off electricity and water, Dunn said this was a blanket punishment for 2.2 million people who had “nothing to do with Hamas”.
She said this is why today they gathered in the streets to support Palestine, because civilians in Gaza have no medicine, no food, no electricity.
Criticizing the British government’s position, Dunn said she was not speaking for herself or the tens of thousands of people gathered today.
Also speaking to AA, another Palestinian supporter, Ayman al-Halabi, criticized international media for over-reporting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He said that the Western media is turning a blind eye to the people of Gaza.
“We need justice, this seems so far away,” he said, citing 75 years of Palestinian suffering.
After the Downing Street protest, some protesters marched towards the Israeli embassy, which was cordoned off by police.
Another group organized a protest in central London’s famous Trafalgar Square, where a skirmish took place between the crowd and police after arresting protesters.
The Metropolitan Police said on Friday night that 15 people had been arrested in connection with a protest.
“Following seven arrests during today’s protest, a further eight arrests were made this evening for offenses including assaulting emergency workers, displaying fireworks in public and causing public disorder,” the press release said.
Protests across the Middle East
Earlier on Friday, thousands of protesters took to the streets in several Middle Eastern capitals in support of the Palestinians.
“No to occupation! No to America!” » Chanting protesters gathered in central Baghdad after Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr called for demonstrations “in support of Gaza” and against Israel.
In Egypt, videos posted on social media showed hundreds of protesters near Cairo’s Al-Azhar mosque chanting solidarity with Gaza.
“Arab and Muslim countries have the obligation and responsibility to provide emergency humanitarian aid and assistance to Palestinians in Gaza,” Al-Azhar University, the highest Sunni Islamic institution , said in a press release.
Anti-Israel protests also took place in Iran on Friday.
In the capital Tehran, protesters waved Iranian, Palestinian and Lebanese Hezbollah flags and held banners reading “Down with America” and “Down with Israel”, an AFP journalist noted .
Similar protests took place in other cities in Iran, where American and Israeli flags were burned.
In Jordan, a country that has long signed a peace treaty with neighboring Israel, more than 20,000 people gathered in central Amman, near the Grand Husseini Mosque.
Masses of protesters filled the streets, waving Palestinian flags and chanting “the people want to liberate Palestine”.
One protester exclaimed: “Palestinians have the right to defend their land and their people.”
He added that “we reject American bias” towards Israel.
Hundreds of protesters in other Jordanian cities.
In the Gulf nation of Bahrain, hundreds of worshipers chanted “Death to Israel!” and “Death to America!” before Friday prayers at Diraz mosque.
They then joined a protest march, some waving Palestinian flags and others placing Israeli and American symbols on the ground.
In Lebanon, supporters of Iran-backed Hezbollah rallied in the southern suburbs of Beirut in support of the Palestinians.
In Algiers, about 1,000 people took to the streets to show solidarity with the Palestinians.
In France, where President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday called on Israel to give a “strong” but “fair” response to the Hamas attack, the government banned “pro-Palestinian demonstrations because they have the potential to create public order unrest.” order.”
Former prime ministers took part in solidarity protests in support of Palestinians across Asia on Friday as the besieged Gaza Strip continued to face intense Israeli bombardment.
Mahathir Mohamad and Muhyiddin Yassin, two former Malaysian prime ministers, led protests in the capital Kuala Lumpur and condemned the Israeli attacks.
In neighboring Indonesia, several religious and political groups held special prayers at mosques and protests in the capital Jakarta and other parts of the country to demonstrate show solidarity with the Palestinian people.
In Pakistan, the political parties Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, as well as other small groups, organized protests across the country against Israel after mass prayers on Friday.
Protesters held banners, signs and chanted slogans in support of the Palestinians as well as against Israel and the United States.
In Bangladesh, thousands of people marched on the streets of the capital Dhaka after Friday prayers and demonstrated against Israeli brutality against innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip.
Leaders at protests call for boycott of Israeli products. They also criticized the United States and its allies for supporting Israeli attacks on Palestinians.
In Hyderabad, capital of the southern Indian state of Telangana, local police arrested a group of people who had gathered to express solidarity with Palestine.
Protesters from student organizations chanted slogans against Tel Aviv. Local media quoted police officials as saying they had not yet received permission to organize the protest.
In Afghanistan, large protests took place in several provinces, including the capital Kabul, where demonstrators condemned Israeli attacks and called on Muslim leaders to speak out and protect Palestinians.
A protest took place in the Budgam region of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, where anti-state protests largely ended after 2019, when the Indian government stripped the region of its autonomy. area.
More than 200 protesters prayed for the safety of Gaza residents and shouted against the United States. and anti-Israel slogans.
In regional capital Srinagar, authorities closed the main Jamia Masjid for mass prayers on Friday.
“The Great March for Palestine”
Istanbul on Saturday witnessed the “Great March for Palestine”, organized by the National Will Platform, as thousands of protesters took to the streets in Turkey’s largest metropolis.
Thousands of people gathered in the city’s famous Beyazit Square, from the neighborhoods of Fatih, Eminönü and Aksaray, waving Palestinian flags, with significant participation from women and children.
Protesters carried pro-Palestinian banners and signs, in addition to Turkish and Palestinian flags.
Groups gathered in the square and chanted pro-Palestinian slogans and expressed their discontent through anti-Israel slogans.
Domestic and foreign tourists also supported the march.
Protesters arrive to perform evening prayers at the Hagia Sophia mosque and the adjacent square. They pray for the safety of Palestinians and an end to Israeli oppression.
Massive rallies and mass prayers also took place in major Turkish cities, including the capital Ankara and Konya in central Anatolia, as well as the southeastern towns of Şanlıurfa, Adana and Diyarbakır on Friday and during the weekend.