Thousands of people have taken to the streets around the world over the weekend to protest Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip. The largest demonstrations were held in Australia, France and Chile.
Thousands of people gathered for a pro-Palestinian rally in Sydney, Australia on Sunday, calling for an immediate end to the Israeli military operation, which has so far cost the lives of over 1,700 Palestinians and 60 Israelis. They were chanting “Free, free Palestine.”
Many Jewish people around the world don’t support the Israeli crackdown on Gaza, Peter Slezak from Independent Australian Jewish Voices told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"The state of Israel does not represent all Jews,” Slezak said. “I am one of very many Jews who is horrified and deeply ashamed by what the Jewish state is doing in my name. I stand with the people of Gaza and with Palestine as a whole."
Rawan Andalus, a Sydney-based Australian Palestinian lawyer who attended the rally, also condemned the silence of Australian authorities on the Gaza crisis.
“I suppose what we’re doing in Australia is really highlighting Australia’s complicity in condoning Israel’s actions," she said. "Just complete silence."
New South Wales Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham resigned from the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel (PFI), saying that the group “failed to raise or discuss … in any way at all” the present conflict in Gaza.
“As a representative of the people of NSW and the Greens, I cannot allow my willingness to engage with the PFI to be perceived in any way as an endorsement of Israel's recent extreme violence and criminal actions in Gaza,” he said.
Also on Sunday, around 10,000 people gathered in Sydney for a peaceful, pro-Israeli rally.
"Every single person here is talking of peace. Today is about singing, camaraderie and friendship," Rabbi Eli Feldman who attended the rally, told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"The overwhelming sentiment of Jewish people here and in Israel is for love and peace, which is in contrast with the chants and anger we saw in other rallies last week."
On Saturday, thousands of people marched in Chile’s capital, Santiago, calling upon the country’s president, Michelle Bachelet, to break off diplomatic relations with Israel.
"Break it off, Break it off, Break off ties with Israel!" chanted demonstrators who rallied in front of the presidential palace.
The demonstrators were waving Palestinian flags and banners, urging Israel to end its military operation in the Gaza Strip.
"We are asking President Michelle Bachelet to expel Israel's ambassador, and to end ties with Israel. We want the world to know Chileans have stood against this Israeli massacre," Mauricio Abu-Gosh, head of the Palestinian Association of Chile, told AFP.
On July 30 Chile and El Salvador recalled their ambassadors from Tel Aviv. The move follows similar actions by Ecuador, Brazil and Peru, who have also recalled their ambassadors.
Bolivian authorities went further in condemning the Israeli violence in the Gaza Strip. Also on July 30, the country declared Israel to be a “terrorist state” and renounced a visa exemption agreement with the country.
Canceling the 1972 agreement which allowed Israelis to travel freely to Bolivia “means, in other words, we are declaring [Israel] a terrorist state,” the country's president, Evo Morales, said.
On Saturday, at least 11,500 people flooded the streets of Paris to express sympathy with Palestinians in Gaza and demand that Israeli authorities stop the violence in the region, police sources said, as cited by France-24 TV.
The crowd was chanting, “Israel go home, Palestine is not yours!” and “Lift the Gaza blockade now!”
“It is important for me and my family to distance ourselves from the occupation [of Palestinian territories] and the Israeli government’s policies,” Ruth, an Israeli citizen from Tel Aviv, told France-24. She joined the protest, carrying posters written in Hebrew.
The demonstration, however, saw none of the violence that have recently swept the city which prompted French authorities to issue a ban on pro-Palestinian marches in several cities.
— Gaza Writes Back (@ThisIsGaZa) August 2, 2014
The protesters not only expressed their disagreement with French and Israeli authorities, but also their frustration with the international community, saying that they have not reacted to the Gaza violence.
Nearly 50 people have been arrested, local Express newspaper reports, citing a Paris police representative who spoke to Europe 1 radio. It said the arrests were made after a group of demonstrators headed to a Jewish neighborhood as they "clearly trying to provoke confrontations."
Thousands of people rallied in the center of Kuala Lumpur of Saturday to demand an end to the ongoing Israeli assault on the Gaza strip.
— ☪ (@SarahCA316) August 3, 2014
“They are targeting children, women and [even] pregnant women,” Iman Husi, a PhD student at Universiti Islam Antrabangsa (UIA), told the Malay Mail online, "Under the rubble, a baby was found still breast-feeding but the mother was already dead,” “This is not war... this is genocide.”
— Niza Yahya (@NizaWYahya) August 2, 2014
Protests demanding an end to Israel's operation in Gaza have been gripping the world for at least two weeks.
In the latest attack on Sunday, an airstrike by the IDF killed at least 10 people and injured more than 30 others in a UN school in the town of Rafah, southern Gaza, medics said. The missile struck the entrance of the school. Israeli authorities have declined to comment on the incident.
— فلسطين i (@iFalasteen) July 21, 2014