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Mass protests all over the world held against Gaza war

Source:Al-Jazeera
Date:10/01-2009

Protesters have staged rallies around the world to voice their anger as the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip entered a third week.

Thousands of protesters marched on the Israeli embassy in Britain, while others took to the streets of  Germany, France, Lebanon, Australia and the West Bank.

Al Jazeera's Jonah Hull, reporting from London, said that the number of protesters in London was far bigger than at previous demonstrations in the UK capital.

"That is an indication of how far things have moved on in the last week, deteriorating quite rapidly in the Gaza Strip with the Israeli ground offensive," he said.

"That has filtered through to public opinion with far more people coming out onto the streets in London and capital cities across Europe.

"There have been calls for the Israeli embassy to be closed down, for diplomatic ties between the United Kingdom and Israel to be broken."

Palestinian cause

One of the protesters told Al Jazeera that she had not been able to contact her family in the Gaza Strip for five days.

"I don't what has happened to them, are they alive, are they not alive?" she said.

"That crowd of 100,000 people, probably more, has come out today to show their support to the Palestinian people despite the fact that all the leaders are not supporting the Palestinian cause and are supporting Israel.

"We will outnumber the leaders ... and we will do whatever we can. We will boycott Israeli goods, we will demand, we will protest and protest and protest as much as we can until we free the Palestinian people."

The rally was backed by Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, who has called on European nations to withdraw their ambassadors from Israel and suspend trade agreements with the Jewish state.

Tens of thousands of people chanting "We are all Palestinians" joined a protest in the French capital Paris.

"We want to point to the hypocrisy of an international community which votes for tons of resolutions that it never enforces," Olivier Besancenot, leader of France's Revolutionary Communist League, said.

Elsewhere in France, pro-Palestinian rallies were held in Lille, Grenoble, Nice and Toulouse.

Engin Karahan, one of the organisers of a march in the German city of Duisburg, said the protesters wanted to show "our solidarity with the victims in the Gaza Strip, and signal our opposition to the oppression and violence in Gaza".

The demonstrators, many from the large ethnic Turkish community, called for an immediate end to the violence and a lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

More than 6,000 demonstrators gathered in the German capital Berlin, and other rallies were held in Munich and Cologne.

Later, at least 3,000 people gathered in a park in Washington DC to voice their solidarity for the Palestinian people.

"The United States has a role to play because US weapons are being used ... so we need a drastic policy change," Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party nominee in the recent presidential contest, said.

'Nation's battle'

Almost 20,000 demonstrators carrying Lebanese and Palestinian flags marched through the streets of the Lebanese market town of Nabatiyeh in a rally organised by the Hezbollah group, which fought a 34-day war with Israeli in 2006.

"Gaza is the nation's battle," read one banner carried by the demonstrators. 

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken part in protests that have been staged every day since Israel began to bombard the Gaza Strip 15 days ago.

In the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, hundreds of Palestinian children took to the streets calling for an end to the war.

Palestinian youths also gathered in East Jerusalem.

"It is to [express] our anger about the massacre in Gaza, this voice ... [says] Jerusalem is part of the Palestinian territories [and] that Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state," Hatem Abdel Al-Qader, an adviser to the Palestinian prime minister, said.

"It is a big voice ... that supports our citizens in Gaza against the Israeli massacre."

Several hundred people rallied outside the Israeli embassy in the Australian capital of Canberra, throwing shoes at the building and chanting "Free Palestine".