LONDON (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in cities across Europe, the Middle East and Asia on Saturday to show their support for the Palestinians as the Israeli military expanded its air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip.
In one of the largest marches, in London, aerial images showed large crowds marching through the center of the capital to demand a ceasefire from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government.
“The superpowers at play are not doing enough right now. That’s why we are here: we ask for a ceasefire, we ask for Palestinian rights, the right to exist, to live, human rights, all our rights,” he said. protester Camille Revuelta.
“This is not about Hamas. This is about protecting Palestinian lives,” he added.
Echoing Washington’s position, the Sunak government has not called for a ceasefire, but rather for humanitarian pauses to allow aid to reach the people of Gaza.
Britain has supported Israel’s right to defend itself following the October 7 attack by the militant group Hamas, in which Israel says 1,400 people, mostly civilians, were killed.
The death toll in Gaza has risen to 7,650, also mostly civilians, since Israeli bombing began three weeks ago, according to a daily report released Saturday by the Palestinian Health Ministry.
The Hamas attacks have sparked strong support and sympathy for Israel from Western governments and many citizens, but the Israeli response has also sparked anger, particularly in Arab and Muslim countries.
In Malaysia, a large crowd of protesters chanted slogans outside the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
Addressing hundreds of thousands of supporters at a large rally in Istanbul, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Israel was an occupier and repeated his stance that Hamas was not a terrorist organization.
This week, Erdogan received a harsh rebuke from Israel for calling the militant group “freedom fighters.”
Iraqis rallied in Baghdad and in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Palestinian protesters in Hebron on Saturday called for a global boycott of Israeli products.
“Do not contribute to the slaughter of the children of Palestine,” they chanted.
Elsewhere in Europe, people took to the streets in Copenhagen, Rome and Stockholm.
Some cities in France have banned rallies since the war began, fearing they could stoke social tensions, but despite the ban in Paris, a small rally was held on Saturday. Several hundred people also demonstrated in the southern city of Marseille.
In Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, thousands of people carrying Palestinian flags and banners reading “Free Palestine” marched towards Parliament House.
In London, special restrictions were applied to protests around the Israeli embassy.
Saturday’s march was peaceful, but the police reported that they had made two arrests, one along the route of the march after attacking a police officer and another on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order crime after it was heard a man yelling racist comments.
Police estimated the turnout at between 50,000 and 70,000 people.
London police have come under fire in recent days for not being tougher on slogans shouted by some protesters during another pro-Palestinian march in the capital last week, which drew some 100,000 people. (Reporting by Yann Tessier, Ben Makori and Will Russell in London, Ece Toksabay and Dilara Senkaya in Istanbul; additional reporting by Reuters newsrooms around the world; Writing by William James and Helen Popper; Edited in Spanish by Ricardo Figueroa)