Millions globally protest Israel’s war on Gaza

Marseille, FranceDuring the week of July 21-27, millions of people turned out in protests around the world to demand that Israel “Stop the war on Gaza.”  As news that the mounting civilian death toll in Gaza surpassed 1,000, mass marches filled the streets of nearly every major world city, including in Israel itself.

On July 26, over 5,000 anti-war Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv calling for an end to the occupation and the siege of Gaza. Two hours before the rally, police cancelled their permit, then reinstated it just before the event. By this time buses of protesters en route to the march had turned back.

Earlier in the week more than 50 Israeli reservists, including many women, issued a joint statement refusing to serve in Israel’s invasion and occupation of Gaza.

International al-Quds Day protests

Hundreds of thousands held pro-Gaza rallies on July 25 in observance of International al-Quds Day – the last Friday of Ramadan, initiated by Iran in 1979 to express solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.

In Iran millions turned out in over 770 cities and towns. A massive rally of hundreds of thousands in Tehran carried a blocks-long Palestinian flag.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani joined the protest. Homayoun Samayeh Najafabadi, head of Tehran’s Jewish community, encouraged Palestinians to keep up their struggle against Israel.  “We, as the representatives of all Iranian Jews, condemn the crimes committed by the Zionist regime in the Gaza Strip,” he said.

In Egypt an anti-coup alliance led by the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood held rallies on July 25 denouncing Egyptian President Sisi for closing key crossings into Egypt from Gaza, which help Israel maintain its deadly siege.

In Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, thousands of marchers trampled U.S. and Israeli flags, while chanting “Down with Israel” and “Down with America.”

Sunni and Shiite scholars held a joint vigil in support of Gaza in Marwahin, a village on Lebanon’s southern border with occupied Palestine.

Turkish protesters in Istanbul and Ankara have marched on Israeli embassies every day since the offensive against Gaza began. On July 25, the Turkish humanitarian relief organization announced plans for a Freedom Flotilla II of aid to Gaza. In 2010 the Israeli Navy attacked the first Freedom Flotilla, killing eight Turkish nationals. Turkish army troops will accompany the ships in the new flotilla.

Protests supporting the people of Gaza also took place in Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Algeria, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Japan and Australia.  Demonstrators in New Delhi, India’s capital, burned Israeli flags and blamed the U.S. for the slaughter in Gaza.

ANC expels Israeli ambassador

Nationwide protests took place across South Africa. The African National Congress called on the Israeli ambassador to leave immediately. An ANC statement of July 22 read in part, “The situation involving Palestine and Israel is an undeclared war, in which the aggressor, Israel, has destroyed the Palestinian economy, robbed people of their land, unilaterally changed borders, and unilaterally built a wall of exclusion to keep Palestinians out of their land. … Palestinians have been reduced to cheap labor for the Israeli economy. This relentless destruction of the Palestinian territory and its people by Israel must be stopped.”

Demonstrators in Kano, Nigeria, marched nearly four miles on July 25 carrying mock figures of injured children and chanting anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli slogans.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators filled the streets of many European cities on July 25, including Spain, ItalyBelgium, Sweden and Macedonia.  In Berlin, Germany, Jewish people joined protesters in a pro-Palestinian march. For the second week in a row pro-Palestinian protesters across France defied a ban on demonstrations, turning out in the tens of thousands in Paris and other cities on July 23.

Over 50,000 people rallied outside the Israeli Embassy in London, England, on July 25 and marched to Parliament, where they called on British Prime Minister David Cameron to “Stop supporting Israeli war crimes.”  Earlier in the week over 21,000 noted individuals demanded an immediate arms embargo on Israel.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations were held in more than 16 cities across Ireland, hosted by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Pro-Palestinian protesters clashed with pro-Israeli protesters in rival rallies in Toronto on July 25 during one of several demonstrations held across Canada.