Thousands of people took to the streets of cities across the world Saturday, to show their support for Palestinians, as airstrikes pounded Gaza and rocket attacks hit Israel for a sixth consecutive day.
Palestinians across the world mark the “Nakba” or “Catastrophe” each year on May 15 to mark their displacement in the 1948 war around Israel’s creation. The violence showed little sign of abating Saturday as Israeli airstrikes killed at least 10 people and rocket attacks from Gaza killed a man in Israel.
In London, where several thousand people took to the streets, charity worker Rohan Talbot, 34, said he had friends in Gaza and he “couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t stand up in solidarity with them, when they are enduring so much.”
Bongani Njalo, 33, a student from South Africa, also demonstrating in London, said that he took “some time away from my studies to be here, as I thought my silence would make me complicit in the violence.”
Protesters in the Australian city of Sydney also chanted “free, free Palestine” after gathering outside the Town Hall on Saturday.
“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,” Walla Abu-Eid told Reuters at the demonstration.
Hundreds of people also took to the streets of Melbourne.
In France, thousands were in Paris in support of the Palestinians, despite the Ministry of Interior deeming the planned protest illegal Friday over fears of violence.
A police spokesperson told the French television channel BFMTV, that a water canon, along with 4,200 police officers, including riot police, were in place throughout the French capital. Some stores also closed early. Similar demonstrations were held in other French cities.
French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday and called for peace in the region. In a statement, Macron condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas and said Israel had the right to defend itself but also expressed concern about the plight of the civilian population in Gaza.
Germany’s Foreign Ministry also wrote on Twitter that the country remained “strongly committed to de-escalating the situation in the Middle East and ending the ongoing violence,” ahead of demonstrations Saturday.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also condemned the burning of Israeli flags, tweeting Friday that those who did so “also burn the values of our Basic Law.”
“Part of the identity of our country is that we do not accept any form of antisemitism and clearly acknowledge Israel’s right to exist,” he wrote.
In neighboring Austria, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz tweeted that his country stood in solidarity with Israel.
But his stance drew ire from Iran whose Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif canceled a trip to the country to meet his counterpart, the Austrian Foreign Ministry said Saturday.
International diplomatic efforts have yet to show any signs of halting hostilities.
President Joe Biden’s envoy Hady Amr, the deputy assistant secretary for Israel and Palestinian affairs, arrived in Israel on Friday. The U.S. Embassy in Israel said in a statement that the American envoy aimed “to reinforce the need to work toward a sustainable calm.”