In Retrospect

Stop the genocide

The escalating Israeli massacre against the Palestinians in Gaza has sparked massive demonstrations, involving millions of people, on every inhabited continent in the world, with UN Secretary-General António Guterres saying that the Hamas attack on October 7 ‘did not happen in a vacuum’

Stop the genocide

As tens of thousands of people pour onto the streets around the world in support of the Palestinians following Israel’s heavy bombardment, killing more than 5,000 Palestinians, mainly civilians, across the Gaza Strip, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations is calling for the resignation of UN Secretary-General António Guterres after he said the Hamas attack on October 7 in which 1,400 people were killed “did not happen in a vacuum.”

“The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation,” Guterres said, according to Israeli outlet Haaretz, to the 15-member UN Security Council early this week after the Hamas-led Ministry of Health in Gaza reported more than 700 Palestinians were killed in 24 hours of Israeli airstrikes, the highest daily death toll since the bombardment began.

“But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

The Palestinian territories — which are the West Bank and Gaza, in addition to East Jerusalem — are widely recognised as occupied by Israel.

More than two million Palestinian people live in Hamas-run Gaza, which has been under an air, land and sea blockade imposed by Israel since 2007, strictly limiting the movement of goods and people. Since the Israel-Hamas war began this October, Israel has enforced a “complete siege” on the territory, cutting off fuel, electricity and water to a population largely reliant on humanitarian aid.

After the statement, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan called Guterres’ speech “shocking” on X, formerly Twitter, saying “the Secretary-General is completely disconnected from the reality in our region.”

Meanwhile, the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations has implored member states to vote to end the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip and to increase aid deliveries to the 2.3 million Palestinians living in the besieged territory.

“I appeal to all of you to vote to stop the killing. Vote for humanitarian aid to reach those whose very survival depends on it. Vote to stop this madness,” Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said in an emotional speech to the UN General Assembly.

Arguing for a ceasefire, Mansour said certain nations that he did not name were applying a double standard on the conflict.

“How can representatives of states explain how horrible it is that 1,000 Israelis were killed and not feel the same outrage when 1,000 Palestinians are now killed every single day?” Mansour asked the assembly. “Why not feel a sense of urgency to end their killing?”

Meanwhile, demonstrators headed to Israeli military checkpoints after Friday prayers in the West Bank and gathered in Iraq at the country’s border crossing with Jordan; in Jordan itself; in locations across Egypt; in Turkey’s capital Ankara and its most populous city of Istanbul; and in Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco and South Africa.

A recent night explosion at a Gaza City hospital tending to wounded Palestinians and residents seeking shelter was a prominent theme in some of the demonstrations. US assessments said the explosion was not caused by an Israeli airstrike, as the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza initially reported. Israel has presented video, audio and other evidence it says proves the blast was caused by a rocket misfired by Palestinian militants, who denied responsibility. However, these claims or evidence released by the parties haven’t been verified.

The Israeli siege of the Palestinian territory and airstrikes on it were the focus earlier this week of demonstrations at Egyptian universities, inside a congressional office building in Washington, outside the Israeli Embassy in Bogota, Colombia and near the US Embassy in Beirut.

The Gaza Health Ministry has said more than 4,000 people have been killed and over 13,000 wounded in Gaza since the war began, most of them women, children and older adults, according to the latest statistics. More than 1,000 people were believed buried under rubble, authorities said.

More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly civilians slain during Hamas’ deadly incursion. Roughly 200 others were abducted.

Protests erupted in the main cities of the occupied West Bank following midday prayers. Palestinians streamed out of mosques and headed to Israeli military checkpoints in Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem, where they threw stones at troops and burned tires. Israeli security forces responded by firing tear gas and live rounds.

Hebron residents shared copies of leaflets they said were dropped across the city by Israeli military drones warning that anyone “who demonstrates on behalf of Hamas will be pursued.” There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

In Tulkarem, militants carried rifles and shots rang out during a funeral for 13 people killed in a battle with Israeli troops in the Nur Shams refugee camp.

The past few days since the eruption of the war have been the deadliest in decades in the West Bank, with more than 80 Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers.

Thousands of Egyptians demonstrated in cities and towns across the North African country, in an expression of solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

In a rare move, the Egyptian government approved and even helped organise 27 locations for protesters to gather. Since coming to power in 2013, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s government has outlawed large public protests. But pro-Palestinian protests broke out in undesignated areas too.

Hundreds gathered in the courtyard of the Al-Azhar Mosque, the Sunni Muslim world’s foremost religious institution, in central Cairo. The Al-Aqsa mosque is the third-holiest site in Islam situated in Jerusalem’s contested Old City, a spot also known to Jews as the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in Judaism.

In a demonstration not among those approved by the government, scores of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square, where they were cordoned off by security forces.

In official demonstration spots located in every major Egyptian city, state TV showed protesters waving flags and chanting pro-Palestinian slogans.

While Egypt has functioning relations with both Israel and Hamas, the overwhelming majority of Egyptians harbour sympathy toward Palestinians and their desire for independence.

Over the past week, el-Sissi has publicly criticised Israel, accusing Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of trying to liquidate the Palestinian cause by pushing Gaza’s inhabitants onto Egyptian territory.

Dozens of supporters of the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group and others protested in a southern Beirut suburb calling for the lifting of the blockade of Gaza and supporting Palestinians there.

In Turkey, where the government has declared three days of mourning in solidarity with the victims of a blast at a Gaza hospital, thousands of people staged protests outside mosques in Istanbul and in the capital, Ankara.

In Istanbul, protesters affiliated with Islamic groups waved Turkish and Palestinian flags, held placards and chanted slogans denouncing Israel’s actions in Gaza.

“Stop the genocide!” and “Murderer Israel get out of Palestine” some of the placards read. About a dozen men wearing red-stained doctors’ coats carried dolls depicting dead babies to protest the hospital blast while some of the protesters set fire to an effigy of the Israeli Prime Minister and an Israeli flag.

In contrast to protests earlier this week, when some demonstrators tried to enter Israeli diplomatic missions in Ankara and Istanbul and flung fireworks at the Israeli Consulate, no violence was reported during recent demonstrations.

Israel has withdrawn its diplomats from Turkey recently over security concerns, officials said.

Leftwing Jewish activists campaigned against Israel’s bombardment and blockade of Gaza this week in Washington, culminating in protests that have seen hundreds arrested for civil disobedience outside the White House and Congress.

Scores of protesters braved rainy weather in New York City and marched to US Sen. Kristen Gillibrand’s Manhattan office, shouting “cease fire now” slogans, calling on the Democrat — and the rest of the delegation — to condemn Israel’s continued bombardment of Gaza.

The march was organised by the New York City Democratic Socialists of America and a diverse coalition of Muslim, Jewish and other groups. Brooklyn-based Rabbi Miriam Grossman told the crowd she knows many people grieving the loss of family members killed in the Hamas attack or have friends and family taken hostage. Yet Grossman said she also knows many Palestinians “living in terror” as they lose contact with loved ones in Gaza.

“Ceasefire is the only way the Israeli hostages, children and elders can come home,” she said. “Ceasefire is the only way thousands and thousands more Palestinians do not die trapped in Gaza, trapped under the rubble of Israeli bombs.”

At a pro-Israel rally, where hundreds packed into New York City’s Times Square to demand the release of the hostages, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York led the crowd in the chant “bring them home.” Photos of the hostages and the Israeli flag shone brightly from towering billboards.

Schumer said he assured Israelis on a recent visit that the US is committed to Israel. “We will not abandon you,” he told the crowd. “We will fight with you side by side until the threat of Hamas is totally eliminated and every hostage is brought home.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of Iraqi protesters gathered at the western Trebil border crossing near Jordan in a demonstration organised by the Coordination Framework, an alliance of Iran-backed Shia political groups and militias in Iraq.

Thousands of Yemenis demonstrated across the divided, war-torn country in support of Palestinians.

Large protests took place in the capital Sanaa, which is governed by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, but also in the south where a secessionist group called the Southern Transitional Council has control.

In Sanaa, thousands waved Palestinian flags, chanting: “With our souls, with our blood, we sacrifice for you ... oh Palestinians.”

Some 1,000 Muslims marched along a busy thoroughfare in Kuala Lumpur after prayers, calling for an end to the killing in Gaza.

Waving Palestinian flags, they gathered outside the US Embassy, which was under heavy security, to protest America’s support for Israel.

Predominantly Muslim Malaysia, a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, doesn’t have diplomatic ties with Israel. Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who is in Saudi Arabia for the ASEAN-Gulf Cooperation Council summit, warned that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza could widen into a regional and world conflict if no solution is found.

In Indonesia’s capital, demonstrators marched from several mosques to the heavily guarded US Embassy in Jakarta to denounce American support for Israel.

Indonesia does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, and there is no Israeli embassy in the country. It’s a strong supporter of the Palestinians. President Joko Widodo strongly condemned the Gaza City hospital blast.

Views expressed are personal

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