Thousands march in capitals around the world demanding cease-fire in Israel-Hamas war


Thousands of mostly young people filled the streets of downtown Washington D.C. on Saturday afternoon to protest the Biden administration’s support of Israel and its continued military campaign in Gaza.

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” chanted demonstrators. They wore black and white keffiyehs as an enormous Palestinian flag was unfurled by a crowd that filled Pennsylvania Avenue, the street leading up to the White House.

Dozens of small white body bags with the names of children killed lined the street and demonstrators held signs calling for an immediate cease-fire.

WATCH: Calls for immediate cease-fire rejected as Israeli troops advance on Gaza City

In Europe, pro-Palestinian demonstrators demanding a halt to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza marched in Paris, Berlin and other 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 Oct. 7 Hamas attack that started the war.

At a Paris rally that drew several thousand protesters, demonstrators called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and some shouted “Israel, assassin!” In central London, streets were blocked by protesters chanting, “Cease-fire now” and “I believe that we will win.”

Pro-Palestinian demonstration in France

People carry Palestinian flags and banners as they gather to stage a demonstration in support of Palestinians in Paris, France, Nov. 4, 2023. Photo by Ibrahim Ezzat/Anadolu via Getty Images

Banners on a sound-system truck 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’ police chief authorized the march from République to Nation, two large plazas in eastern Paris, but vowed that any behavior deemed antisemitic or sympathetic to terrorism would not be tolerated.

Multiple countries in Europe have reported increasing antisemitic attacks and incidents since Oct. 7. In a new attack Saturday, an assailant 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, Stéphane 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.

WATCH: Israel-Hamas war leads to increase of antisemitic threats on college campuses

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 center 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.

Freedom For Palestine Protest In Berlin

People chant slogans during a “Freedom for Palestine” protest that drew thousands of participants at Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany. Nov. 4, 2023. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

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 behavior.

On Friday, two women who attended a pro-Palestinian march three weeks ago were charged under the U.K.’s Terrorism Act for displaying images on their clothing of paragliders. In its Oct. 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 U.K. 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 Oct. 1, was among the participants and described Oct. 7 as a watershed 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.”

Associated Press writers John Leicester in Le Pecq, France; Stephen McGrath in Bucharest, Romania; Brian Melley in London, Frances D’Emilio and Silvia Stellacci in Rome, and Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin contributed to this report.

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