Hundreds attend pro-Palestinian march to EU district in Belgian capital

Israeli FM Israel Katz and Palestinian Authority top diplomat Riyad al-Maliki are expected in Brussels on Monday to discuss war in Gaza with EU member states

Demonstrators hold signs and wave flags during a pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel rally in Brussels, January 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
Demonstrators hold signs and wave flags during a pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel rally in Brussels, January 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Around 9,000 demonstrators marched through Brussels on Sunday calling for an end to Israel’s war against Hamas and the heavy bombardment of the Gaza Strip, in a pro-Palestinian protest that ended in the EU district.

The march came a day before EU foreign ministers will meet their Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, Saudi, and Jordanian counterparts in a string of meetings to discuss the ongoing war in Gaza and the plight of Palestinian civilians trapped in the coastal enclave, which was plunged into war, following the deadly massacres carried out by Hamas inside Israel on October 7.

Participants in the “Justice for Palestine” demonstration, which was described as having been peaceful, yelled out “Stop genocide,” “Israel: terrorist,” and “Free Gaza.”

Some also cried out “EU, shame on you,” for perceived inaction by Brussels to protect Palestinian civilians, while others urged a boycott on Israeli goods and businesses.

Many of the attendees were seen holding printed signs with “Stop genocide” splashed across them in red, although other attendees held homemade signs sporting a variety of messages including one that declared that Israel “controls every country” in the world.

“We really need to unite against the genocide happening in Gaza and fight for an end to Israel’s occupation,” said one demonstrator, Victor Dumont.

“No people deserve that, whatever side they’re on — it’s not possible,” said another, Bahija Dioure.

Demonstrators hold signs and wave flags during a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel rally in Brussels, Sunday, January 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

On Monday, the 27 EU ministers will first meet with Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz, before sitting down separately with the Palestinian Authority’s top diplomat Riyad al-Maliki.

Katz and Maliki are not expected to meet each other.

The ongoing war in Gaza began with the shock Hamas onslaught on October 7, when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists burst into Israel from the land, air and sea and launched attacks on more than 20 communities in southern Israel.

Some 1,200 people were massacred and 253 were seized and taken to Gaza as hostages, of whom 132 are still held captive, not all of them alive.

In response to the deadly onslaught, the victims of which were mostly civilians, Israel vowed to eliminate Hamas and end its 16-year rule, and launched an aerial campaign and subsequent ground operation.

According to the Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip, more than 25,000 people have been killed in the enclave since the start of the war, though these figures cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires.

The IDF says it has killed over 9,000 operatives in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

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