HomeEconomynewsGlobal Protests Erupt Over Gaza Conflict as Death Toll Rises

Global Protests Erupt Over Gaza Conflict as Death Toll Rises


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From the streets of New York to the campuses of California, a growing wave of demonstrations is sweeping across the United States and cities worldwide as outrage mounts over the latest deadly Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip.  

On Saturday, at least 22 Palestinians, including several children, were killed in a barrage of Israeli airstrikes targeting central and southern Gaza, according to Palestinian health officials. Dozens more were injured in the bombardment, adding to the mounting civilian death toll in the besieged coastal enclave.

The Israeli Defense Forces have framed the escalating assault, dubbed “Operation Shield and Sward,” as a necessary response to recent rocket fire from Gaza-based Palestinian militant groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. However, the disproportionate scale of the strikes and rising number of Palestinian civilian casualties has sparked anger and spurred protests across the globe.

“We cannot remain silent as innocent men, women and children are killed by Israeli rockets and bombs,” said Ali Jamali, a Palestinian-American student at the University of California, Berkeley, where hundreds gathered Saturday to denounce the violence. “This latest offensive is a stark reminder that the brutal occupation and collective punishment of Palestinians must end.”

Protests Rage in North America

Jamali was among the throngs of pro-Palestinian activists who took to the streets in U.S. and Canadian cities over the weekend to demand an end to the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. In New York City, thousands marched across the Brooklyn Bridge waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans in a show of solidarity with Gaza’s 2 million besieged residents.

“We are here to amplify the voices of those suffering under Israel’s illegal occupation and indiscriminate use of force,” said Leila Abdulmuti, a protestor from Staten Island. “The world cannot turn a blind eye to these atrocities any longer.”

In Chicago, a rally and march was held in the city’s Loop, briefly blocking traffic as demonstrators voiced their support for Palestinians and condemned both the Israeli offensive and the latest round of $3.8 billion in military aid to Israel approved by the U.S. Congress.

Similar scenes played out in Los Angeles, Boston, Miami and other major cities where Palestinian solidarity groups have maintained an active presence. 

Demonstrations took on a familiar cycle of events – with marchers waving the Palestinian flag and condemning the Israeli strikes, often followed by pro-Israel counter-protestors accusing Hamas and other militant factions of using civilians as human shields.

But it was on college campuses where some of the biggest Palestinian solidarity rallies were concentrated, driven in large part by student groups energized by the Gaza crisis.

Campuses Become Flashpoint 

At the University of California, Berkeley, Oakland and across the wider San Francisco Bay Area, thousands turned out for a series of protests and events condemning Israel’s latest offensive. Images of Israeli missiles slamming into residential buildings and videos of bloody victims circulated widely across social media platforms, galvanizing many students and youth into action.

Similar scenes unfolded over the weekend at UCLA, USC and campuses nationwide as the growing civilian death toll from Gaza sparked an outpouring of activism long simmering on many college quads.  At Columbia University in New York City – which has seen fierce debate over the issue for decades – hundreds of pro-Palestinian students walked out of classes and clashed with pro-Israel counter-protestors before holding a rally on campus. 

Events also took place at Harvard, MIT, Georgetown, University of Texas, and campuses across Colorado, Illinois, Michigan and beyond.

Many student protestors invoked imagery and criticism comparing the conditions in Gaza, with its limited access to food, electricity, clean water and basic services due to the long Israeli-imposed blockade, to an open-air prison.  

“The denial of fundamental human rights and the disproportionate use of military force against the civilian population in Gaza is nothing new. But this latest escalation has reached a boiling point,” said Laila Alawa, a senior at Georgetown University and member of the campus group Students for Palestinian Rights. “These are war crimes happening in real-time, and we have a moral obligation to call it out and demand accountability.”

Global Condemnation & Solidarity

The rage and anguish over the spiraling death toll in Gaza reverberated far beyond North America, sparking demonstrations across Europe and in cities around the world over the weekend. 

Mass protests condemning the Israeli strikes took place in London, Berlin, Paris, Madrid, Brussels and several other European capitals, galvanized in large part by the regions’ sizable Palestinian diaspora population. Many waved Palestinian flags and held signs likening Israel’s tactics to terrorism or apartheid.

In Turkey, pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul chanting slogans and demanding an end to the aerial bombardment of Gaza. Similar rallies also took place across multiple cities in Malaysia and Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.

Even in Israel itself and the neighboring occupied territories of the West Bank, protests erupted in solidarity with Gaza. Hundreds marched through the streets of Haifa on Saturday, while demonstrations across the West Bank in cities like Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem were met by volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets from Israeli security forces, leading to dozens of injuries.

Australian cities like Sydney and Melbourne also witnessed large pro-Palestinian rallies, decrying the lack of action from the international community in curbing Israel’s military actions in Gaza. “Free, free Palestine!” they chanted.

Rising Pressure on Global Leaders

As the body count continues to mount, the vocal demonstrations across multiple continents have put increasing pressure on global leaders to step up efforts aimed at resolving the long-burning Israeli-Palestinian conflict and brokering an immediate ceasefire.

The vocal outcry and graphic images of the destruction in Gaza have sparked criticism from some foreign governments typically allied with Israel, like the United Arab Emirates, which struck a normalization deal with the Jewish state just three years ago. Other Arab countries like Qatar and Egypt have likewise expressed dismay over the intensity of the Israeli offensive and lack of protection for Gaza’s civilians.

Even Pope Francis joined in demanding an end to the “hateful” cycle of violence and pushing for peace and open dialogue at his weekly address from the Vatican, saying the deaths in Gaza “caused immense grief.”

But perhaps the loudest voices of global criticism have been directed squarely at the United States, Israel’s closest ally and military aid benefactor. Upset over the Biden administration’s steadfast financial and political backing of Israel as the death toll climbs, pro-Palestinian demonstrators in cities like Washington D.C., Seattle and San Francisco directly called out the White House.

“Year after year, our taxpayer money funds the subjugation, dispossession and killing of Palestinians by Israeli forces,” said Washington D.C.-based activist Huwaida Arraf at a rally outside the White House on Sunday. “It is long past time for decisive action from President Biden to hold Israel accountable for its gross human rights violations and war crimes.”

With protestors showing no signs of letting up, the White House may soon be forced to adjust its messaging on Israel’s right to self-defense as the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza worsens and mass civilian casualties mount. The daily scenes of global outrage in the streets, plazas and campuses is sure to maintain pressure for substantive action or risk sparking further instability.


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