Pro-Israel protesters flood European capitals’ streets to urge freeing Hamas hostages

Thousands of activists in London chant ‘Bring them home,’ cycle through Regents Park to draw attention to abductees amid tight security; marches also held in Paris, Berlin

Pro-Israeli supporters wave Israeli and pre-revolution Iranian flags as they gather for a demonstration in Trafalgar Square in central London on January 14, 2024. (HENRY NICHOLLS / AFP)
Pro-Israeli supporters wave Israeli and pre-revolution Iranian flags as they gather for a demonstration in Trafalgar Square in central London on January 14, 2024. (HENRY NICHOLLS / AFP)

LONDON — On foot and pedal bike, thousands of Israel supporters gathered in London, Paris, and Berlin on Sunday to call for the release of hostages held by Palestinian terror groups for 100 days.

Several thousand turned London landmark Trafalgar Square into a sea of Israeli flags and yellow balloons, symbolizing the 136 hostages who remain captive, the vast majority of them after being kidnapped on October 7, when Hamas terrorists rampaged through southern communities, massacring some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducting over 240 to Gaza.

Some supporters held placards reading “Stand with Israel” and “Never again is now,” while guest speakers on stage led the crowd in chants of “Bring them home.”

The event was marked by a heavy police presence and tight security, with all attendees undergoing bag checks and frisking.

“I’m here to support Israel, to support our community and our people,” retiree Arthur Goldberg, from north London, told AFP.

“You have to have empathy with an ordinary Gazan citizen, they are going through a nightmare. However, there are 150 hostages that are being detained,” added the 56-year-old.

Cyclists, some draped in the national flag of Israel, take part in the #RideToBringThemHomeNow – a Global Ride to Bring Israeli Hostages Home – in Regent’s Park, central London on January 14, 2024. (HENRY NICHOLLS / AFP)

“There are consequences to how governments behave, and they voted for that government.”

Israel responded to the Hamas onslaught by launching a campaign to eliminate the terror group in the Strip, where it has ruled since taking over in a bloody coup in 2007.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says over 23,000 people have been killed in the fighting, 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.

‘Rock and hard place’

Ursula Conlong, 59, traveled six hours from North Wales for the event.

“I support Israel. The people that support Israel in England, we know each other, there’s a network,” said the former volunteer teacher.

“Israel is stuck between a rock and a hard place,” she said. “What’s interesting about this event is how we are scrutinized coming in… but the other marches around the world, pro-Palestinian, there isn’t this security. Israel supporters aren’t trying to kill Palestinian supporters.”

Demonstrators hold a banner reading ‘Bring them Home Now,’ in support of Israeli hostages held in Gaza as they march past the Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom) to mark the 100th day of captivity, on January 14, 2024. (John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

Several hundred people also marched through the streets of Berlin on Sunday, waving Israeli flags to demand the “immediate” release of the hostages.

Marchers carried signs reading “100 days in hell” and “Bring the hostages home now.”

Others held up placards criticizing the Israeli government for “betraying the hostages” and calling for “an immediate ceasefire.”

And in Paris, a series of events took place at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

“The French nation is determined that… all the hostages of the terrorist attacks of October 7 should be freed,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday.

Earlier in London, around 250 cyclists completed a 4.5 mile (7.2 kilometer) ride inside Regents Park to draw attention to those still detained.

“I’m hoping to remind the world of the existence of the hostages, still unfortunately living where they are living in Gaza under the conditions they are living in, which is inhumane,” said accountant David Landau, 57.

“The Pakistanis have thrown the Afghans back into Afghanistan and the Chinese are doing what they are doing to the Uighur Muslims, but apparently the world is focused on one thing and one thing alone, which is hypocrisy and antisemitism,” he added.

Most Popular
read more: