Massive pro-Palestinian protests erupted in cities around the world on Saturday demanding an end to the nearly 100-day old war in Gaza. The demonstrations came just a day after the U.S. launched controversial airstrikes in Yemen, raising tensions in the region.
Over 400,000 March in D.C. Calling for Ceasefire
An estimated crowd of over 400,000 descended on Washington D.C. for what organizers called a “historic” turnout at the March on Washington for Gaza protest. Thousands filled Freedom Plaza near the White House, chanting slogans like “Not another nickel, not another dime, no more money for Israel’s crimes!”
Several presidential hopefuls joined the D.C. march, using the event to criticize U.S. complicity in the Gaza war. Chants of “No votes for genocide, Joe!” were directed at President Biden. His administration recently approved $1 billion in military aid to Israel, drawing outrage from marchers.
As night fell, tensions escalated as some protesters rattled the White House fences and threw objects at police. Authorities were forced to temporarily relocate White House staff. At least a dozen arrests have been made so far.
Key facts on the D.C. protest:
- Organizers: Council on American-Islamic Relations, Jewish Voice for Peace, CodePink
- Location: Freedom Plaza to Lafayette Square near White House
- Crowd Estimate: Over 400,000
- Notable Attendees: Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Rashida Tlaib
- Slogans: “End the siege”, “Stop arming Israel”
- Vandalism reported on White House exterior fence
London Sees One of Biggest Pro-Palestine Rallies Ever
London witnessed one of the biggest shows of support for Palestinians in recent memory as over 200,000 marched through the city’s streets. Columns of peaceful protesters held up Palestine flags and signs reading “Free Gaza” as they made their way to the Israeli embassy.
The rally came together under the banner “National March for Palestine” and was organized by the UK’s Stop the War Coalition. This seventh annual march saw one of the highest turnouts since the tradition started.
There was increased security and police presence due to fears the protest could turn violent. Authorities advised that anyone shouting extremist slogans like “jihad” should be arrested. At least three people were detained for distributing flyers praising Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.
Key facts on the London demonstration:
- Organizer: Stop the War Coalition
- Location: Israeli embassy
- Crowd Estimate: Over 200,000
- Notable Slogans: “Free free Palestine”, “Israel is a terrorist state”
- 3 arrests made for distributing pro-Hamas flyers
Global Show of Solidarity for Gaza
From Paris to Istanbul, pro-Palestinian sympathizers came together for synchronized “Day of Rage” style demonstrations in a remarkable show of solidarity for Gaza. The worldwide rallies took place just a day after controversial U.S. airstrikes in Yemen raised tensions in the Middle East.
The demonstrations were planned to coincide with the 100-day milestone of Israel’s punishing war in Gaza. Other major rallies took place in Amman, Beirut, Berlin and Madrid. Crowd estimates ranged from 3,000 protesters in Sydney to 80,000 marchers in Rabat, Morocco.
The coordinated global protests were organized by local pro-Palestinian groups including university student clubs and Muslim associations. Commentators noted the impressive scale of the simultaneous worldwide rallies showed growing opposition to Israel’s policies in Gaza.
Other large rallies around the world:
- 80,000 march in Rabat, Morocco
- 50,000 turn out in Berlin, Germany
- 40,000 protesters in Istanbul, Turkey
- 15,000 gather in Amsterdam, Netherlands
- 3,000 demonstrators in Sydney, Australia
What Led to This Outburst of Pro-Palestinian Protest?
The massive global backlash was sparked by growing frustration with the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Gaza Strip. Israel has kept up a relentless bombing campaign since last October, aimed at wiping out militant groups like Hamas.
Over 4,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza war, including hundreds of children. Entire neighborhoods have been reduced to rubble and over 90,000 residents have fled their homes.
Advocacy groups accuse both Israel and Egypt of imposing a crippling blockade on Gaza since 2007. They demand both countries end restrictions to allow urgent humanitarian aid into the 141 square mile territory where 2 million Palestinians live.
There is also seething anger at the U.S. over President Biden’s vocal backing of Israel during the conflict. Demonstrators see U.S. military aid as allowing Prime Minister Netanyahu to continue pounding Gaza while avoiding global pressure to negotiate.
What Comes Next?
With the Gaza war about to enter its fourth month, there seems no end in sight to the humanitarian catastrophe unless outside powers intervene strongly. The U.N. Security Council has failed to pass resolutions calling for a ceasefire due to U.S. objections.
While demonstrations so far have been largely peaceful, some observers worry sustained conflict could spark unrest. There are concerns Hamas and other militant groups may use civilian anger to incite violence against Israeli and U.S. targets.
There are also worries about a potential mass exodus of Palestinians from Gaza once borders reopen. U.N. officials caution Israel against plans to relocate large numbers of residents, calling it illegal forced transfer of protected people.
For now, the Biden administration continues urging “restraint” while affirming Israel’s right to self-defense. But the massive crowds marching in global capitals suggest growing unease with that hands-off approach.
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