Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched in London and other cities on Saturday to demand Israel stop its bombardment of Gaza, as the Israel-Hamas war entered its third week and its ripples spread around the globe.
On the day a trickle of aid entered Gaza, where more than 1 million people have had to leave their homes because of the conflict, protesters gathered in the rain at Marble Arch near London’s Hyde Park before marching to the government district, Whitehall.
Waving Palestinian flags, participants called for an end to Israel’s blockade and airstrikes launched in the wake of a brutal incursion into southern Israel by the Hamas militant group that controls Gaza.
British authorities have urged demonstrators to be mindful of the pain and anxiety felt by the Jewish community. London’s Metropolitan Police force says it has seen a 13-fold upsurge in reports of antisemitic offenses in October compared to last year. Reports of anti-Muslim crimes have more than doubled.
Police said there wer “pockets of disorder and some instances of hate speech” during protests, but “the majority of the protest activity has been lawful and has taken place without incident.”
In Australia, thousands marched through central Sydney on Saturday, shouting “Shame, shame Israel” and “Palestine will never die.”
Authorities in Gaza say more than 4,300 people have been killed in the territory since the latest war began. More than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel, mostly civilians slain during Hamas’ deadly incursion on Oct. 7.
Israel continued to bombard targets in Gaza on Saturday ahead of an expected ground offensive. A small measure of relief came when 20 trucks carrying humanitarian aid were allowed to enter Gaza across the southern Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
The war sparked protests across the Arab world and beyond on Friday, including in the occupied West Bank, where Palestinians burned tires and threw stones at Israeli military checkpoints. Israeli security forces responded firing tear gas and live rounds.
Crowds gathered in Israel’s northern neighbor Lebanon; in Iraq at the country’s border crossing with Jordan; in Jordan itself; in cities and towns across Egypt; in Turkey’s capital Ankara and its most populous city of Istanbul; and in Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco and South Africa.
In New York, hundreds of protesters from Muslim, Jewish and other groups marched to U.S. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand’s Manhattan office, many shouting “cease fire now.” Police later arrested dozens of protesters who blocked Third Avenue outside Gillibrand’s office by sitting in the road.
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.
In Mexico City, dozens gathered outside the Israeli Embassy on Friday evening, lighting candles and chanting “Free Palestine.”
Pro-Israel demonstrations and vigils have also been held around the world, many focused on securing the return of hostages captured by Hamas.
Rome’s Jewish community on Friday remembered the more than 200 people believed held by Hamas by setting a long Shabbat table for them outside the capital’s main synagogue and empty chairs for each of the hostages.
On the backs of each chair was a flyer featuring the name, age and photo of each missing person. On the table were candles, wine and loaves of challah, the braided bread typically eaten during the Friday night meal.