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Intl. outrage at ‘israel’: Pro-Palestine rallies hit US, Europe, Australia

Zionist regime's deadly bombardment of the blockaded Gaza Strip has sparked protests worldwide in support of the Palestinian nation and in condemnation of the occupying regime’s aggression.

Israeli aerial assaults have killed at least 174 people, including 47 children and 29 women, in Gaza over the past week and wounded nearly 1,000 others.

However, the Times of Israel said while Tel Aviv may claim tactical gains through razing high-rise buildings in Gaza, Palestinian resistance groups are “proving the strategic victor”.  

Smoke fills the air during a pro-Palestinian rally called against Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip, in Paris, France, on May 15, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

On Saturday, thousands of protesters took to the streets of major cities across Europe to vent their anger at the Israeli crimes against the Palestinians. There were similar gatherings in the US, Australia and Iraq.

In London, over 100,000 demonstrators carrying placards reading “Stop Bombing Gaza” and chanting “Free Palestine” converged on Marble Arch, near the British capital’s Hyde Park, to march towards the Israeli embassy.

The police said nine officers were injured as they tried to disperse the crowd outside the Israeli mission, adding that 13 people were arrested.

“This time is different. This time we will not be denied any more. We are united. We have had enough of oppression,” Palestinian Ambassador to the UK Husam Zomlot told the protesters. “Today we are saying enough, enough with the complicity.”

In Paris, police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse a pro-Palestinian rally, which was held despite a ban by authorities.

“You want to prohibit me from showing solidarity with my people, even as my village is being bombed?” said Mohammed wearing a “Free Palestine” T-shirt.

Hundreds of people also took part in authorized protests in other French cities, including Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Toulouse and Bordeaux.

Protesters in the German capital, Berlin, shouted “Boycott Israel” and threw paving stones and bottles at the police, leading to several arrests.

Other demonstrations took place in the cities of Frankfurt, Leipzig and Hamburg.

They came a few days after Israeli flags were burnt in front of two synagogues in the cities of Bonn and Muenster.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas vowed “unwavering” protection of synagogues, saying, “There must be no tolerance for attacks against synagogues in our country.”

In Madrid, some 2,500 people, many of them young people wrapped in Palestinian flags, marched to the city center, chanting slogans such as, “This is not a war, it’s genocide.”

The Association of the Spanish-Palestinian Community held the “Jerusalem” rally on the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe), when the Israeli regime proclaimed existence and drove hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948 .

“They are massacring us,” said Amira Sheikh-Ali, a 37-year-old of Palestinian origin. “We’re in a situation when the Nakba is continuing in the middle of the 21st century.”

“We want to ask Spain and the European authorities not to collaborate with Israel, because with their silence, they are collaborating,” said Ikhlass Abousousiane, a nurse of Moroccan origin.

Danish police violently arrested Palestinian supporters who were protesting in front of the Israeli embassy in Copenhagen and dispersed them with tear gas.

According to Anadolu news agency, the protesters were about to leave the subway station in Copenhagen for the Israeli embassy when they were attacked by police.

In Athens, around 500 people rallied, but there were minor scuffles after Greek police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd.

Shouting “Freedom to Palestine” and waving Palestinian flags, the participants marched to the Israeli embassy that had been cordoned off by police buses.

Similarly, the Australians marched in Sydney and Melbourne to condemn the Israeli attacks on Gaza.

In Sydney, protesters chanted slogans like “Free, free Palestine” and “Free, free Gaza”.

“I see an uprising,” said Sydney protester Walla Abu-Eid. “I see people who are no longer going to remain silent. People who are fed up, people who are responding to oppression and violence by standing up for themselves.”

In Iraq, several cities witnessed protests, with the participants burning Israeli and American flags.

Iraqis raise Palestinian flags in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, during a solidarity march with the Gaza Strip, on May 15, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Thousands of demonstrators shouted anti-Israeli slogans, waved Palestinian flags and held signs saying “Death to Israel, death to America.”

The rallies were called by Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and other political leaders.

More than 65 cities in the US were also the scene of protests in support of Palestine. They were held in response to a national call to action by the Palestinian Youth Movement and the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition.

An estimated 10,000 people gathered at the Washington Monument in Washington, DC, on Saturday afternoon.

Large marches were also reported in the California cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as in Philadelphia and New York City.

Biden supports Israel; Muslim groups boycott White House Eid celebration

On Saturday, US President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Biden reaffirmed his “strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas” in his call with Netanyahu, according to the White House.

Israeli ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan expressed his gratitude to the US president over his support for Tel Aviv.

“Thank you @POTUS for your strong message. May the rest of the international community follow your lead and support Israel’s right to defend itself,” he tweeted.

However, Muslim-American and Palestine solidarity groups called for a boycott of a White House event celebrating Eid al-Fitr on Sunday over Biden’s pro-Israel stance.

“The recent statements made by President Biden personally, by White House spokesperson Jen Psaki, and by Department of State spokesperson, Ned Price, regarding the oppression that the Palestinian people are subjected to are outrageous and complicit,” read a statement backed by prominent US Muslim organizations. 

“The statements not only completely ignore the Israeli assault on al-Aqsa and the Muslims worshiping inside, the expulsion taking place in the Jerusalem [al-Quds] neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and the ongoing siege of Gaza that has already claimed the lives of hundreds, but also have the audacity to lay the blame on the victims; the Palestinian people,” it added.

“We cannot celebrate Eid with a president who justifies the killing of our brothers and sisters in Palestine.”

Resistance rockets halt flights to Israel

Gaza-based Palestinian resistance movements have fired 2,300 rockets at the occupied territories in response to Israeli aggression.

Israel’s Kan public radio reported on Saturday that all international airlines performing flights to Israel have stopped air service with this country for safety reasons due to continued missile strikes from Gaza.

The airlines from the UAE were among the last ones to suspend the flights to Israel, the report added.

UAE threatens to suspend Gaza investment

However, a senior Emirati official warned Hamas that its planned investments in the Gaza Strip may not move forward if the group does not maintain “calm” in the Palestinian enclave.

“We are still ready and willing to promote civil projects in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and under UN management [in Gaza], but our necessary condition is calm,” the unnamed official told the Globes financial newspaper.

“If Hamas does not commit to complete calm, it is dooming the residents of the Strip to a life of suffering. Its leaders must understand that their policies are first and foremost hurting the people of Gaza.”

In mid-September 2020, the UAE, along with Bahrain, signed normalization accords with the Israeli regime during an official ceremony hosted by then US president Donald Trump at the White House.

Palestinians condemned the agreements as a treacherous “stab in the back” and a betrayal of their struggle against the Israeli occupation.

Qatari FM urges end to Israeli offensive 

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani called for an end to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in a meeting with Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas political bureau.

“The international community must act urgently to put an end to Israel’s brutal and repeated attacks against civilians in Gaza and al-Aqsa Mosque,” he said in a statement carried by the official QNA news agency. 

He also assured Haniyeh of Qatar’s support for its “Palestinian brothers.” 

China, Pakistan support Palestine

In a telephone conversation with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the conflict has deteriorated because for a long time there has been no just solution to the Palestinian issue.

In recent years, he said, the Middle East peace process has deviated from its original track, UN Security Council resolutions have not been earnestly implemented and the Palestinians’ right to establish an independent state has been continuously violated.

Wang further noted that the Security Council has a responsibility to seek an early de-escalation.

He, however, blamed the UN inaction on the United States, saying the country is standing on the opposite side of international justice.

An ultimate way out of the Palestinian issue lies in the implementation of the so-called two-state solution, the top Chinese diplomat said, emphasizing that Beijing will continue to firmly support the just cause of the Palestinian people and the restoration of their legitimate national rights.

Qureshi, for his part, said Pakistan agrees with China’s position on the conflict, supports the two-state framework as well as the just Palestinian cause, and advocates dialogue between the Palestinian and Israeli sides. 

Iraq’s PMU voices solidarity with Palestine 

Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) or Hashd al-Sha’abi said in a statement that it is following with deep concern the situation in Palestine and “the brutal aggression of Zionist occupiers.” 

The PMU also expressed full solidarity with the Palestinian people in the face of the “criminal Israeli acts as the regime is killing civilians, bombing houses and trying to forcefully displace Palestinians.” 

It further called on all nations, governments and freedom-seeking people “to honor their humanitarian responsibility in opposing the Zionists’ oppression and terrorism against the defenseless Palestinian citizens.” 

“The heroic Palestinian resistance is crushing the enemy’s positions and teaching the world a lesson of will that says free nations will never fail,” the PMU said.

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