WASHINGTON— From Washington to Milan to Paris, tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched Saturday demanding an end to the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip.
(The video above is from a previous story and will be updated.)
The marches reflected growing concerns about the rising number of civilian casualties and suffering caused by the war between Israel and Hamas. Protesters, particularly in countries with large Muslim populations including the United States, Britain and France, expressed disillusionment with their governments supporting Israel as bombings of hospitals and residential areas in the Gaza Strip increase.
According to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza, the Palestinian death toll in the Israel-Hamas war has reached 9,448. More than 1,400 people were killed in Israel, most of them in the October 7 Hamas attack that sparked the war.
In the United States, thousands gathered in the country’s capital to protest the Biden administration’s support of Israel and its continued military deployment in Gaza. “Palestine will be free,” protesters in black and white keffiyehs shouted as a giant Palestinian flag was unfurled by a crowd on Pennsylvania Avenue – the street leading to the White House.
Renad Dayem of Cleveland offered direct criticism of President Joe Biden, saying she traveled with her family so her children would know “the Palestinian people are resilient – and we want a leader who is not a puppet of the Israeli government.”
Dozens of small white body bags bearing the names of children killed by Israeli missiles lined the street and demonstrators held signs calling for an immediate ceasefire.
Protesters held signs and banners with messages such as “Biden is betraying us” and “In November we remember,” making it clear that the issue could be a factor in Biden’s re-election.
Jinane Ennasri, a 27-year-old New York resident, said the Biden administration’s support of Israel despite the thousands of Palestinian deaths has made her reconsider her vote in the 2024 presidential election, in which Biden is likely to face Republican front-runner Donald Trump will meet. “We thought he represented us, but he doesn’t,” she said, “and our generation is not afraid to put elected officials in their place.”
Ennasri, like many protesters, said they would likely sit out the 2024 election.
Biden was in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, over the weekend and did not comment on the protests. In a brief conversation with reporters as he left St. Edmond’s Roman Catholic Church on Saturday, he suggested that there had been progress in U.S. efforts to persuade Israel to agree to a humanitarian pause and responded with “Yes,” when asked if there was progress.
Steve Strauss, a 73-year-old Baltimore resident, said he is one of many Jews protesting Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. “They are trying to kill as many Palestinians as they can get away with,” Strauss said. “I am here to stand up and be a voice for the oppressed people.”
In Paris, several thousand protesters called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, with some chanting “Israel, assassin!”
Banners on a public address van at the Paris march through rain-soaked streets read: “Stop the massacre in Gaza.” Protesters, many carrying Palestinian flags, chanted: “Palestine will live, Palestine will win.”
Protesters also targeted French President Emmanuel Macron, chanting “Macron, accomplice.”
The Paris police chief authorized the march from République to Nation, two large squares in eastern Paris, but promised that any behavior deemed anti-Semitic or sympathetic to terrorism would not be tolerated.
Several countries in Europe have reported increasing anti-Semitic attacks and incidents since October 7th.
In one attack on Saturday, an attacker knocked on the door of a Jewish woman in the French city of Lyon and, when she opened it, said “Hello” before stabbing her twice in the stomach, according to the woman’s lawyer, Stéphane Drai, who spoke at the station BFM. He said police also found a swastika on the woman’s door. The woman is being treated in a hospital and her life is not in danger, the lawyer said.
At the London rally, the Metropolitan Police said its officers made 11 arrests, including one on terrorism charges for displaying a poster that could incite hatred. The police had announced that they would also monitor social media and use facial recognition to detect criminal behavior.
On Friday, two women who took part in a pro-Palestinian march three weeks ago were charged under Britain’s Terrorism Act for displaying images of paragliders on their clothing. In its surprise attack on Israel on October 7, Hamas used paragliders to ferry some fighters across the border between Gaza and southern Israel. Prosecutors said the images raised suspicions that they were supporters of Hamas, which is considered a terrorist group by British authorities.
Around 1,000 police officers were deployed in Berlin to maintain order after previous pro-Palestinian protests turned violent. The German news agency dpa reported that around 6,000 demonstrators marched through the center of the German capital. Police banned any public or written statements that were anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, or glorified violence or terror. Several thousand demonstrators also marched through the western German city of Düsseldorf.
In the Romanian capital, hundreds gathered in central Bucharest, many waving Palestinian flags and chanting “Save the children of Gaza.”
At a rally of several thousand people in Milan, Matteo Salvini, deputy prime minister, spoke out against anti-Semitism, calling it “a cancer, a vicious plague, something disgusting.”
In another part of Milan, around 4,000 people took part in a pro-Palestinian rally, and in Rome there was also a march of several thousand people. Yara Abushab, a 22-year-old Gaza University medical student who has been in Italy since October 1, was among the participants and described October 7 as a turning point for her.
“They bombed my university and my hospital. “I have lost many loved ones and the last time I heard from my family was a week ago,” she said. “The situation is indescribable.”
Cetinic reported from Paris. Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, John Leicester in Le Pecq, France, Stephen McGrath in Bucharest, Romania, Brian Melley in London, Frances D’Emilio and Silvia Stellacci in Rome, and Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin contributed to this report .