Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters poured onto the streets of Brooklyn, New York’s largest borough, on Saturday to voice their opposition to Israel’s ongoing war with Hamas in Gaza, which entered its fourth week on Sunday.
Home to between 1.6 and two million Jews and hundreds of thousands of Muslims, New York has, for the past three weeks, been rocked by demonstrations, rallies, and vigils in support of both Palestinians and Israelis.
In other demonstrations, some 35,000 pro-Palestinian protesters marched through the streets of Madrid, calling “Freedom for Palestine.” Tens of thousands of Moroccans marched Sunday through Casablanca in a show of solidarity with Palestinians, AFP reported. There were also large demonstrations in Greece and Pakistan.
The war erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 2,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air, and sea, killing some 1,400 people and seizing some 230 hostages of all ages, under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.
The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — including babies, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 were slaughtered at an outdoor festival amid many horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists.
In response, Israel vowed to eradicate Hamas from the Gaza Strip, where the group has ruled since 2007, and return the hostages.
Left-wing American Jewish activists are among those protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza, where the IDF has said it is seeking to minimize civilian casualties.
Hundreds of people were arrested Friday when police broke up a large demonstration of mostly Jewish New Yorkers who had taken over the main hall of Manhattan’s Grand Central station in protest at Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.
“We’re mobilizing all across New York City, flooding Brooklyn,” to call for the “liberation (of) each and every single Palestinian,” said 21-year-old protester Abdullah Akl at Saturday’s protest in Brooklyn.
Protest organizer Nerdeen Kiswani took aim at American “politicians” for their unwavering support of Israel.
“We are here as New Yorkers to say that we’re against this and we’re against the politicians, the local politicians as well, like New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, who have both pledged unconditional support to Israel,” said Kiswani.
Their stance “means that they provide unconditional support to the killing of our people,” added Kiswani.
Adams, who governs a city of nearly nine million people, including the world’s largest Jewish community outside of Israel, has repeatedly assured pro-Israel rallies that Israel’s “fight” is New York’s fight too.
New York media and AFPTV estimated the crowd at thousands of demonstrators, who waved “Free Palestine” and “By any means necessary” placards.
On Wednesday, Jewish students at New York’s Cooper Union College were locked in their school’s library for 20 minutes, as pro-Palestinian demonstrators pounded on the doors and shouted anti-Israel slogans.
The incident moved the White House to issue a statement against college campus antisemitism, which has risen dramatically since October 7.
“There is an extremely disturbing pattern of antisemitic messages being conveyed on college campuses,” White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates told The Times of Israel.
“Just over the past week, we’ve seen protests and statements on college campuses that call for the annihilation of the State of Israel; for genocide against the Jewish people. Jewish students have even had to barricade themselves inside buildings,” he said.
Outside of the US, pro-Palestinian protests in Europe and the Middle East continued to draw large crowds over the weekend
More than 5,000 people protested in Athens, Greece, on Sunday, police said, calling for an end to the “massacre” of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
“We are fighting for the peace of people,” Athens News Agency quoted demonstrators as chanting through loudhailers.
“Stop the massacre of the Palestinian people in Gaza,” they shouted.
The Athens demonstrators branded Israel a “murderous state” and also denounced the Greek government for abstaining at Friday’s UN vote for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.
Ambassador from the Palestinian Authority Youssef Dorchom attended the protest, as did a large delegation from Greece’s KKE Communist Party.
The Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip claims that Israeli strikes have killed more than 8,000 people since October 7, half of them children. However, the figures cannot be independently verified, and are believed to count both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires.
Israel says it killed some 1,500 Hamas terrorists inside Israel on and after October 7.
While the pro-Palestinian rally was underway, a pro-Israel rally was also held in the Greek capital, in which attendees displayed photos of the people currently held captive by Hamas in Gaza.
In Britain, tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters marched on Saturday to call for a ceasefire, as Israel expanded the scope of its ground operation, while thousands more attended protests in France and Switzerland, as well as in Poland and Spain.
In Pakistan, thousands of supporters of the country’s main politico-religious party rallied in the capital city of Islamabad on Sunday, chanting anti-American slogans and accusing the US of “backing the aggressor.”
The extreme right party, Jamaat-e-Islami, had announced a march from Islamabad’s famous Abpara intersection to the US embassy in the high-security diplomatic enclave.
However, stern action by the authorities the previous night forced the religious party to modify its program and hold the rally in a major street well away from the protected area. Police pulled down the party’s encampments on Saturday night, detaining the local leadership and dozens of supporters.
Because of the plan announced by Jammat-e-Islami and the risk of violence, the US embassy issued an advisory for American citizens living in Islamabad and the surrounding area to “limit unnecessary travel on Sunday.”
It advised US citizens to avoid large public gatherings, to exercise caution if unexpectedly in the vicinity of a large gathering or demonstration and to review personal security plans.
The Jammat-e-Islami supporters, including women and children, marched for a couple of kilometers to reach the agreed venue. They held banners and posters with slogans opposing Israel and the United States and in support of the Palestinians.
“Just sending medicines and relief goods is neither sufficient, nor is it the sole duty of the world, particularly of Muslim rulers, but to stay the hand of the aggressor is the real task of the world,” said Haq. He urged the leaders of the Muslim world to rise up for Gaza, and to rely on Allah instead of remaining the slave of America.
Jamaat-e-Islami would continue to raise its collective voice for the Palestinians until they freed their land, he said.
Another religious party, Jamiat Ulema Islam, held a massive rally in the southwestern city of Quetta, where its leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman expressed solidarity and support for Gazans.