JAKARTA, Indonesia — Pro-Palestinian protesters march to the heavily guarded US Embassy in Indonesia’s capital to demand an end to Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip amid fighting between the Israel Defense Forces and the enclave’s Hamas rulers.
Waving Indonesian and Palestinian flags and signs that read “Free Palestine,” several hundred demonstrators gather along a major street in Jakarta that runs outside the embassy. More than 1,000 police are deployed around the compound, which is blocked off by concrete road separators.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim majority nation, does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel and there is not an Israeli Embassy in the country.
One group of protesters, organized by the United Indonesian Muslim Student Action group, chants “God is Great” and “Freedom for Palestine” as they march. Their banners and placards slam the airstrikes in Gaza and denounce America’s staunch support of Israel.
Another group, organized by the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions, holds a similar rally a few hundred meters (yards) from the embassy. They yell “Save Palestinians” as they march through downtown Jakarta to the United Nations mission.
Similar protests organized by union workers are held at the same time in other Indonesian cities, including in Surabaya, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Makassar and Riau.
Authorities warned protesters to maintain social distance during the demonstrations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The hostilities in Gaza, now in their ninth day, erupted last week after Hamas fired several rockets at Jerusalem amid escalating Israeli-Palestinian tensions over the city.