Thousands March in London Demanding an End to Violence in Gaza
LONDON – Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters braved the rain and marched through the streets of London on Saturday, calling for an immediate halt to the Israeli bombings in Gaza. Similar protests took place in cities across the globe, reflecting growing concern over the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas, which has now entered its third week.
As aid finally began reaching Gaza, where over a million people have been forced to flee their homes due to the ongoing conflict, demonstrators gathered in London near the Marble Arch monument, close to Hyde Park, before marching towards the government buildings in the district of Whitehall.
Police estimated that around 100,000 people participated in the march, which lasted for three hours and covered various areas of the city.
Chanting slogans such as “Stop bombing Gaza” and calling for an end to the blockade and airstrikes, the protesters waved Palestinian flags to show solidarity with the people of Gaza. The Israeli response to a brutal incursion by the Hamas militia, which controls Gaza, into southern Israel, has resulted in over 4,300 casualties in Gaza, according to authorities in the territory. In Israel, over 1,400 people, mostly civilians killed during the Hamas incursion on October 7, have lost their lives.
Despite international calls for a ceasefire, Israel continued its bombing campaign in Gaza on Saturday as a prelude to a planned ground offensive. However, some respite came to the residents of Gaza when 20 trucks carrying humanitarian aid were allowed to enter through the Rafah crossing from Egypt.
The conflict has not only heightened tensions within the region but also ignited fears amongst both Jews and Muslims worldwide. Authorities in the United Kingdom have opened an investigation after a video surfaced online, allegedly showing a London Underground driver leading passengers to chant “Free, Free Palestine” over the intercom. The incident has prompted warnings from British authorities to protesters, urging them to consider the deep pain and anguish felt by the Jewish community. Reports of anti-Semitic crimes in London have skyrocketed, registering a 13-fold increase in October compared to the previous year. Conversely, there has also been a drastic rise in anti-Muslim crimes.
In Germany, nearly 7,000 people assembled for a peaceful pro-Palestinian demonstration in Düsseldorf. The protesters held Palestinian flags and carried signs calling for an end to violence and aggression in Gaza. However, a pro-Palestinian demonstration planned for the city center in Berlin was banned by the local authorities due to concerns of potential violence and anti-Semitic speeches. Clashes between the police and pro-Palestinian protesters occurred despite the ban. In a separate development, a pro-Israel demonstration was sanctioned and is expected to draw thousands of participants in central Berlin on Sunday.
In Rome, hundreds of individuals marched through the city streets displaying banners reading “Palestine, Rome is with you” and “There is no peace until we achieve freedom.” The event was organized by the Palestinian Students Movement in Italy, whose president, Maya Issa, expressed dismay at the lack of international action against what she claimed to be war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel in Gaza.
Support for the Palestinians was also visible in Kosovo, with hundreds of people congregating in Pristina after midday prayers to express their solidarity. Similar protests took place in Australia, as thousands marched through central Sydney chanting slogans such as “shame, shame, Israel” and “Palestine will never die.”
The conflict has triggered widespread demonstrations across the Arab world and beyond. Palestinians in the occupied West Bank set tires on fire and pelted Israeli checkpoints with stones, resulting in clashes with Israeli soldiers. In Lebanon, Israel’s northern neighbor, protests took place. Demonstrations also occurred at the crossing points with Jordan, as well as in cities throughout Egypt, Ankara, the capital of Turkey, and Istanbul, the country’s most populous city. Similar gatherings in support of the Palestinians were held in Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, and South Africa.
Meanwhile, in New York, a diverse group comprising Muslims, Jews, and others protested outside Senator Kristen Gillibrand’s office, demanding an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Law enforcement authorities arrested dozens of demonstrators who blocked Third Avenue in front of the office. In Mexico City, a rally was held in front of the Israeli embassy on Friday night, with participants lighting candles and chanting “freedom to Palestine.”
As the war rages on, global condemnation of the violence in Gaza is mounting, with increasing calls for a peaceful resolution and urgent humanitarian assistance for the affected population.