Protests banned in Berlin, celebrations canceled in Iraq

Amid New Years celebrations, pro-Palestinian protesters rally across globe

Tens of thousands flood streets in Istanbul calling out ‘murderer’ Israel, decry killing of Turkish soldier by Kurdish militants in Iraq; protester sets off smoke bomb at NYC mall

Thousands demonstrate against Israel amid the ongoing war in Gaza, in Istanbul, Turkey, January 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
Thousands demonstrate against Israel amid the ongoing war in Gaza, in Istanbul, Turkey, January 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

As revelers around the world celebrated the new year, pro-Palestinian demonstrators took to the streets, protesting the ongoing Israel-Hamas war on Sunday and Monday.

Hamas fired a rocket barrage deep into Israel immediately after midnight as 2023 gave way to 2024.

Tens of thousands marched in Istanbul on New Year’s Day to protest “murderer” Israel’s war in Gaza and the killing of Turkish soldiers by outlawed Kurdish militants in Iraq.

The rally, called by a foundation that counts Bilal Erdogan, the son of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, among its members, started after crowds performed morning prayers at Istanbul’s iconic mosques, including Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

Protesters waving Turkish and Palestinian flags rallied to the Galata Bridge on the Bosphorus chanting: “Murderer Israel, get out of Palestine” and “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest).

Tens of thousands of people joined the rally “Mercy for our martyrs and a curse on Israel,” the official Anadolu news agency reported.

Erdogan, a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, has lashed out repeatedly at Israel for the scale of death and destruction caused by the offensive aimed at toppling Hamas’s regime in the Gaza Strip after the terror group’s brutal October 7 massacre.

He has accused Israel of “state terrorism” and said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “no different” from Adolf Hitler.


The war began when some 3,000 terrorists stormed the border from Gaza, killing some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — inside Israel and seizing over 240 hostages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. In the ongoing IDF ground operation, 172 soldiers have been killed.

The Hamas health ministry said that at least 21,978 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory since war with Israel broke out. Figures issued by Hamas cannot be independently verified and include both civilians and terror operatives killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires. Israel says it has killed over 8,000 Hamas and other terror group operatives in Gaza.

The Turkish army said 12 soldiers were killed in late December in two separate attacks launched by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.

Turkey regularly conducts ground and air operations in northern Iraq against the positions of the PKK, listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

On Sunday, a small army of thousands of police officers worked to keep New York City safe. New York has seen near-daily protests sparked by the Israel-Hamas war.

Thousands marched through the city Sunday calling for a ceasefire and chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” local media reported.

The rally was mostly peaceful, though a demonstrator set off a red smoke bomb as protesters marched through the Macy’s shopping center in Herald Square.

“We must keep building momentum and increase the pressure with more marches, walk-outs, sit-ins, and other forms of direct action directed at the political offices, businesses, and workplaces that fund, invest, and collaborate with Israeli genocide and occupation,” the Shut it Down for Palestine protest group said in a statement.

Protesters also marched through Boston demanding a ceasefire, chanting slogans and waving Palestinian flags.

In Iraq, a Christmas tree was decorated with Palestinian flags and symbolic bodies in funeral shrouds, placed beside a liberty monument in central Baghdad. Many Christians in Iraq have canceled this year’s festivities in solidarity with Gaza, and have chosen to limit their celebrations to prayers and rituals.

“We hope that the new year, 2024, will be a year of goodness, prosperity and joy,” said Ahmed Ali, a Baghdad resident.

In Muslim-majority Pakistan, the government banned all New Year’s Eve celebrations in solidarity with the Palestinians. In the country’s capital Islamabad, protesters rallied at the Centaurus Mall chanting “Free Palestine.”

In Berlin, some 4,500 police officers worked to keep order and avoid riots like those seen a year ago. They also banned a pro-Palestinian protest in the Neukoelln neighborhood of the German capital, which has seen several pro-Palestinian riots.

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