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Protests across Europe in opposition to Israel's war on Gaza

 Protests across Europe in opposition to Israel's war on Gaza

Workers and youth joined protests across Europe on Saturday, including in London, Paris, Berlin and Madrid, to oppose Israeli bombing of the Palestinian population in Gaza.

The protests coincided with the Palestinian Nakba (Day of Disaster) - marking the founding of the State of Israel, by the forced eviction of 760,000 Palestinians from their villages and homes in 1948.

The biggest protest took place in London where tens of thousands of people gathered in Hyde Park and marched to the Israeli embassy in Kensington. Protesters chanted slogans such as "Stop bombing Gaza", "Israel is a terrorist state" and "Free, free, Palestine". Many had brought home made signs. Police arrested 13 people during the day, including several outside the Israeli embassy. An already arrested woman was attacked by at least six police officers in riot gear.

Protests across Europe in opposition to Israel's war on Gaza
People hold up Palestinian signs and flags as they march in solidarity with the Palestinian people amid the ongoing conflict with Israel, during a protest in London on Saturday, May 15, 2021 (AP Photo / Alberto Pezzali)

Protests took place in at least 30 cities across the UK over the weekend.

In Germany, more than 3,000 people protested in Berlin, with marches in the southern quarter of Neukoelln, which includes a large Turkish and Arab community. Protests also took place in Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Hamburg and elsewhere.

In France, the Interior Ministry, which regularly underestimates the number of demonstrators, said 22,000 people demonstrated across the country, including more than 3,000 in Paris. The Macron government banned protests before Saturday and ordered a violent police crackdown on the Paris protest. Parisian police chief Didier Lallement ordered more than 4,200 police officers to take to the streets. In the 18th arrondissement in the north of Paris, where a large working-class and Arab community lives, riot police were stationed at most street corners, and the main avenue where the march should pass was closed.

Police used tear gas and water cannons throughout the afternoon. Riot police charged at La Chapelle metro station and a 22-year-old protester had to be hospitalized after being hit in the back by a rubber projectile grenade.

Thousands of people took part in a protest in Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid, Spain. Hundreds of people demonstrated in cities across the Netherlands, including in front of The Hague Parliament.

Protests across Europe in opposition to Israel's war on Gaza
Protesters on Wilmslow Road in Manchester. The sign reads: “Israel is killing children. Silence is a war crime ”(Source: WSWS 

In Manchester, several thousand people gathered in Platt Fields Park in the Rusholme district, which has a large Arab and Indian subcontinent population, and marched through the main thoroughfares Wilmslow Road and Oxford Road.

Protests across Europe in opposition to Israel's war on Gaza
Karim (left) and Khalid (second from left) in Platt Fields, Manchester (Source: WSWS media)

Karim, who had brought a sign that read "Israel is a terrorist state - Free Palestine" said: "A siege is underway in Gaza and it has been going on for years. The whole world is watching and doing nothing. It is our humanitarian duty to come out and show that there is no justice. People like [US President] Joe Biden and [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu are behind all of this ”.

“This is a kind of ethnic cleansing that started in 1947. Little by little, they want to kill, assassinate or physically displace people from the territory. They carried out a deliberate provocation at the al-Aqsa mosque, a deliberate provocation to take over territory ”.

“Everyone could have lived together in peace. The fascist position of Israel today, supported by America, is very unfortunate ”.

Karim said he did not agree with the slander that opposing Israel's war crimes was anti-Semitism. “They [Israel] want it to be like this because they don't want criticism of all the horrors they are doing. They said the same thing about South Africa [don't criticize apartheid] ”.

Khalid, who works in the aviation industry, held a sign that read "Lift the Siege of Palestine - Stop Bombing Palestine". He said: “Israel should know that though. They know what it feels like to be exterminated. They did not have a homeland and came to Palestine as guests and now they have taken the houses of the Palestinians and are trying to throw them out. The Palestinians have no water, they have no food. There are people like [British Prime Minister] Boris Johnson and presidents who collude with Israel and give it money to destroy human lives ”.

Mizak, from Iran, said: “Human rights don't exist when it comes to Palestinians. People should have the freedom to live their lives in their homes. But as soon as we talk about freedom, they say we oppose the Jews. It's not fair, because if it happened to the Jews, I would be with them too, even if it was against my own people. We literally see the videos of Israel bombing Gaza and we cry. They cannot protect or defend themselves ”.

"I was telling my friend yesterday that if the Jews continued to support the rights of the Palestinians, they would also kill them because they don't care whether they are Jews or Muslims."

Students Faryal and Annabella attended the protest with a friend.

Faryal said: “I have always supported Palestine. She has been oppressed for so many years and the West does not even look at her. They know they can't condemn it because they've done similar things. They give Israel military support, aid, money ”.

Annabella said: “It's not okay for people to die anywhere. It's not the only place where this happens, but if it happens for years, like in Gaza, it's easier to let it go. Regardless of ethnicity or religion, we are human beings and killing is never okay. And any form of militarist government will never be acceptable ”.

In Sheffield, hundreds of people took part in a protest at the city hall.

Shekha, a journalism student at the University of Sheffield, said: “I've been following what's going on in Palestine for a while. What Israel is doing to them really angers me. It is ethnic cleansing ”.

“If you criticize Israel, you are called an anti-Semite. It is clearly not anti-Semitism to criticize what they are doing to the Palestinians. It has nothing to do with their religion, it's the actions they do. Millions of Jews around the world oppose what the Israeli state is doing ”.

“The media coverage is awful, it's so biased. He is essentially a spokesperson for Israel. To call people who defend their homes terrorists is ridiculous ”.

Shekha added: “I think socialism is definitely the way to go. Capitalism is so ingrained. We're going to have to do a lot of things to change it. People need to realize what capitalism really is. I think the revolution is really the only way out of capitalism, I don't see any other way ”.

Protests across Europe in opposition to Israel's war on Gaza
Dekhra and her children at the demonstration in Sheffield (Source: WSWS media)

Dekhra's family is from Yemen. She said: “We are here to show our support for our brothers and sisters in Palestine and to show that they are not alone. What happens to them should not last any longer: 73 years is enough ”.

“They are Palestinian children today, but one day they could be my children and I am totally against it. Every decent human being should stand up and say 'no' to what is happening in Palestine ”.

“People are divided because of nationalism, but we are here to say that we are against war, against the crimes that are committed against innocent people. People should have the right to live together in peace ”.

Harris, from Greece, said: “The key to all of this is the occupation. The freedom of the Palestinians is not respected. The BBC only does propaganda, it presents a distorted picture. She talks about terrorism, but the opposing parties are not equal. The Palestinians are not free, they are under occupation ”.

“We all know who runs the world, America. The Palestinians have been abandoned by the Arab countries who pretend to speak on their behalf, they all make deals with Israel ”.

In Leeds, protests took place outside the BBC offices and in the Briggate shopping district.

Protests across Europe in opposition to Israel's war on Gaza
The demonstration in front of the BBC in Leeds (Source: WSWS media)

Speaking to the BBC, Lewis, a downtown worker, said: “I think the actions of the Israeli government against the people of Palestine are disgusting. The support given to it by the American and British governments is despicable. I don't think that as a free western country we should be encouraging this kind of colonialism, land grabbing and killing of innocent civilians. I just cannot stand the support my government gives to this militarized nationalism in Palestine ”.

“We have to be careful not to condemn the people of Israel. We condemn the Israeli government. Ultimately, this war has nothing to do with religion. It is a war which concerns the colonists and the victims of the colonies ”.

The official Imran said: “These deportations are thefts, which they [the Israeli government] say are legal. They call them the settlers, but they are not. If people from abroad came to your house and kicked you out of your house, what would you call that? "

“We came to protest in front of the BBC because we want our media to report the news equally and not be one-sided. To use the correct terminology, it is genocide. They have to use the words persecution, theft and genocide because that is what is happening ”.

“The BBC is a service we pay for. It reports the news as it is, not the consistent bias in favor of Israel. They say how many rockets fell on Tel Aviv, etc., but don't report the other side. They say so many people have been killed, but don't say they are Palestinians… We have come to defend people all over the world who cannot defend themselves ”.

In Glasgow, hundreds of people demonstrated in the city's main square, George Square. Daniel, an IT worker, said: "Every day innocent children are bombed". On the sentiment of the population, he said: “On Thursday we saw a kindness of heart with people who stopped a deportation [of an asylum seeker] to Glasgow. We had a demonstration in Edinburgh yesterday, in Glasgow today, we just have to keep doing it ”.

Protests across Europe in opposition to Israel's war on Gaza

Danielle, who is studying for her Masters, said: “I am from Lebanon. Yesterday was the anniversary of the Nakba and for 73 years the Palestinian people have been oppressed, silenced, murdered, regardless of whether they are children, women or men ”.

Protests across Europe in opposition to Israel's war on Gaza

“When things like that happen, there are demonstrations like that, but then, after a while, it calms down. But I have the impression that the problem is now much more serious and that Israel does not stop, of course, and becomes more and more violent, so maybe this time it will be different ”.

Cathal, a teacher, said: “It looks like Israel is the aggressor in this situation. The United States has supported Israel, they are fairly close allies. The UK has sold arms to Israel. It is quite possible that these weapons are being used at this very moment against the Palestinian people ”.

Protests across Europe in opposition to Israel's war on Gaza

Protests across Europe in opposition to Israel's war on Gaza

Shaz said, “The mainstream media doesn't give a balanced view of what's going on. You get a better idea of ​​it from the people out there, posting on Instagram and Facebook, you can see what's going on in real time. It's pretty heartbreaking… that's why we're here… to voice our concerns and our anger at what's going on right now. The world must come together ”.

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