World

Protest marches by thousands in Europe demand halt to Israeli bombing of Gaza

People gather to take part in a pro-Palestinian rally in Berlin on Saturday (Joerg Carstensen/dpa/AP)
People gather to take part in a pro-Palestinian rally in Berlin on Saturday (Joerg Carstensen/dpa/AP) People gather to take part in a pro-Palestinian rally in Berlin on Saturday (Joerg Carstensen/dpa/AP)

Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators demanding a halt to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza marched in Paris, Berlin and other European cities on Saturday.

The marches reflected growing disquiet in Europe about the mounting civilian casualty toll and suffering from the Israel-Hamas war, particularly in countries with large Muslim populations, including France.

The Palestinian death toll in the Israel-Hamas war has reached 9,448, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

In Israel, more than 1,400 people have been killed, most of them in the October 7 Hamas attack that started the war.

At a Paris rally that drew several thousand protesters, demonstrators called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and some shouted “Israel, assassin”.

A mock child’s body is carried during a demonstration in Paris
A mock child’s body is carried during a demonstration in Paris A mock child’s body is carried during a demonstration in Paris (Aurelien Morissard/AP)

In central London, streets were blocked by protesters chanting “ceasefire now” and “I believe that we will win”.

Banners on a sound-system lorry at the Paris march through rain-dampened streets read: “Stop the massacre in Gaza”.

Demonstrators, many carrying Palestinian flags, chanted “Palestine will live, Palestine will win”.

Some demonstrators also took aim at French President Emmanuel Macron, chanting “Macron, accomplice”.

Paris’s police chief authorised the march from Republique to Nation, two large plazas in eastern Paris, but said any behaviour deemed antisemitic or sympathetic to terrorism would not be tolerated.

Multiple countries in Europe have reported increasing antisemitic attacks and incidents since October 7.

People take part in a pro-Palestinian rally in Berlin
People take part in a pro-Palestinian rally in Berlin People take part in a pro-Palestinian rally in Berlin (Joerg Carstensen/dpa/AP)

In a new attack on Saturday, someone knocked on the door of a Jewish woman in the French city of Lyon and, when she opened, said “hello” before stabbing her twice in the stomach, according to the woman’s lawyer, Stephane Drai, who spoke to broadcaster BFM.

He said police also found a swastika on the woman’s door.

The woman was being treated in a hospital and her life was not in danger, the lawyer said.

In Berlin, around 1,000 police officers were deployed to ensure order after previous pro-Palestinian protests turned violent.

German news agency dpa reported that about 6,000 protesters marched through the centre of the German capital.

Police banned any kind of public or written statements that are antisemitic, anti-Israeli or glorify violence or terror.

Several thousand protesters also marched through the west German city of Duesseldorf.

At the London rally, with hundreds of protesters, the Metropolitan Police said its officers made 11 arrests, including one on a terrorism charge for displaying a placard that could incite hatred.

The police force had forewarned that it would also monitor social media and use facial recognition to spot criminal behaviour.

On Friday, two women who attended a pro-Palestinian march three weeks ago were charged under the UK’s Terrorism Act for displaying images on their clothing of paragliders.

In its October 7 surprise attack on Israel, Hamas employed paragliders to get some fighters across the border between Gaza and southern Israel.

Prosecutors said the images aroused suspicion they were supporters of Hamas, which UK authorities regard as a terrorist group.

In Romania’s capital, hundreds gathered in central Bucharest, many waving Palestinian flags and chanting “save the children from Gaza”.

At a rally by several thousand people in Milan, Matteo Salvini, a deputy prime minister, spoke out against antisemitism, calling it “a cancer, a virulent plague, something disgusting,’’

In another part of Milan, a pro-Palestinian rally drew about 4,000 people and there was also a march by several thousand in Rome.

Yara Abushab, a 22-year-old medical student from Gaza University, who has been in Italy since October 1, was among the participants and described October 7 as a watershed moment for her.

“They bombed my university, my hospital. I lost a lot of loved ones and right now the last time I heard something from my family was a week ago,” she said.

“The situation is indescribable.”