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Pro-Palestinian protesters in London burn Israeli flag, liken Israel to Nazis

UK protest organizers claim 180,000 attended largest pro-Palestinian rally in British history; speaker says ‘they have learnt nothing from what happened to them in Europe’

Pro-Palestinian activists and supporters burn an Israeli flag as they demonstrate in support of the Palestinian cause outside the Israeli Embassy in central London on May 22, 2021. (JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)
Pro-Palestinian activists and supporters burn an Israeli flag as they demonstrate in support of the Palestinian cause outside the Israeli Embassy in central London on May 22, 2021. (JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

Tens of thousands of people attended pro-Palestinian rallies on Saturday in Britain, France and elsewhere, during which they condemned Israel over its recent fighting with the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip and likened the Jewish state to Nazi Germany.

Video shared on social media showed a car driving past the London demonstration as the occupants waved Palestinian flags and dragged an Israeli flag along the road behind the vehicle, drawing cheers from the crowds. Photos also showed demonstrators setting an Israeli flag on fire.

According to the Campaign against Antisemitism watchdog, placards brandished at the London rally included numerous comparisons of Israel to the Nazis.

“Israel, the new Nazi state,” read one, while another said: “Nazis are still around, they call themselves Zionists now.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “surpasses Hitler in barbarism,” read another poster, while others accused Israel of carrying out a “Holocaust” against the Palestinians.

The demonstrations came during the first full day of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas after 11 days of fighting during which Palestinians in Gaza fired over 4,000 rockets at Israel, which responded with heavy airstrikes on terrorist infrastructure.

In London, tens of thousands attended a march and rally. According to organizers from the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, 180,000 participated, making it the largest pro-Palestinian demonstration the country has ever seen.

Among those who addressed the crowd were former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, a lawmaker for the party.

McDonnell told the crowd: “Yes, a ceasefire has been negotiated and we welcome a ceasefire. But let’s be clear, there will be no ceasefire in our campaign to boycott, disinvest and sanction the Israeli apartheid state.”

One protester was seen holding a banner with an image of Jesus bearing the cross and a slogan reading “Don’t let them do the same thing again today.”

A similar demonstration in London last weekend, as the fighting was still raging, saw some protesters also carry openly antisemitic banners, though organizers asked those attending not to bring signs that equated between Israel, Zionism, and the Nazis, the Jewish News reported.

However, speaker Tariq Ali, an activist acquaintance of Corbyn, reportedly criticized right-wing Israelis, telling the crowd on Saturday, “They have learnt nothing from what happened to them in Europe. Nothing.”

“They talk a lot about saying all those marching for Palestine are antisemites. This of course isn’t true,” Ali said, according to the report. “Every time they bomb Gaza, every time they attack Jerusalem – that is what creates antisemitism.”

Following the demonstration, Corbyn, who was forced to resign as Labor chief and was later temporarily suspended from the party over claims he mishandled antisemitism in the party, tweeted a photo of himself at the rally with the message: “The ceasefire is welcome but permanent peace can only be achieved with a free and independent Palestine.”

More protests in support of the Palestinians were held in other UK cities, including Manchester, Bristol, Peterborough, and Nottingham, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Protesters hold placards and banners in London, May 22, 2021, as they take part in a rally supporting Palestinians (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Across the Channel, several thousand people marched in Paris and other French cities in support of Palestinians.

The Paris demonstration was restricted to a rally at the Place de la Republique. Last weekend, thousands of activists defied a ban on a similar demonstration to march in the capital.

The CGT trade union said up to 4,000 people attended the Paris rally.

The capital marchers shouted slogans such as “Palestine will live, Palestine will win”, “Israel assassin, Macron accomplice” and “We are all Palestinians.”

Protesters hold Palestinian flags in Paris, May 22, 2021. (Thibault Camus/AP)

Bertrand Heilbronn, president of the France Palestine Solidarity Association, which organized the Paris rally and other demonstrations, told AFP the ceasefire had not resolved anything.

“This fight concerns all those who are attached to the values of justice, dignity and law,” he said.

Other protests took place in cities around France.

Regional officials said 1,100 people marched in the southeast city of Lyon, as many as on the previous weekend.

In the northern city of Lille, organizers said around 1,000 attended a rally while police put the number at 650.

Other protests were held in the eastern French city of Strasbourg, as well as Toulouse and Montpellier in the south.

“Palestinians have a right to live in peace and have a state,” said Imad Deaibis in Strasbourg. “Israel has deprived us of our rights and of our houses. I am Palestinian but I no longer have the right to go there, my family has lost everything.”

Rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, Monday, May. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

During the 11-day conflict, dubbed in Israel Operation Guardian of the Walls, Hamas and other terror groups fired more than 4,300 rockets toward Israel while the IDF responded with hundreds of airstrikes against terror targets in Gaza.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza says at least 243 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children and teens, with 1,910 people wounded. It does not differentiate between terror group members and civilians. The Israeli army says some of the Gaza casualties were caused by the terror groups’ rockets falling short and landing inside Gaza.

Twelve people were killed in Israel, all but one of them civilians, including a 5-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl.

The fighting began May 10, when Hamas terrorists in Gaza fired long-range rockets toward Jerusalem. Palestinian terror groups tied rocket fire from Gaza to unrest in Jerusalem connected to prayers on the Temple Mount during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and to the pending eviction of a number of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

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