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Solidarity Marches Held Across Globe to Demand Cease-Fire in Gaza

Organizers held rallies in the U.S., Europe, and Asia to mark Nakba Day and condemn Israel’s bombing and starvation of Palestinian civilian

As one United Nations official on Saturday said that “brand new words” are needed to adequately describe the devastation Israel has wrought across Gaza in its U.S.-backed military assault, tens of thousands of people across the globe marched in solidarity with Palestinians to demand an end to the “ongoing Nakba.”

The marches were held to honor Nakba Day, which was marked on May 15—the 76th anniversary of the mass displacement of 700,000 Palestinians who were forced from their homes when Israel declared statehood in 1948. The protesters demanded a cease-fire in Gaza, where Israeli forces have killed at least 35,456 people since October, the majority of them women and children.

Protesters in London carried signs reading, “Solidarity is a verb,” and “The Nakba never ended” as they marched through Whitehall, close to the home and office of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Palestinian photojournalist Motaz Azaiza, who covered the first months of Israel’s bombardment and evacuated Gaza in January, joined the marchers and told the crowd that mass protests around the world have given Palestinians hope.

“I didn’t believe that I would stay alive to stand here in London today in front of the people, who saw me there under the bombing,” said Azaiza. “Occupation is using all the weapons against us, the bombs, the killing, the starvation, the apartheid in the West Bank, and now killing the people and forcing them to leave their lands… I did my best to show you, and I believe you will do more, we all together will do more to stop this genocide.”

In Dublin, Ireland, where politicians have harshly criticized Israel and its supporters for the assault on Gaza and the near-total blockade on humanitarian aid that has pushed parts of the enclave into famine, more than 100 civil society groups supported a march organized by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Irish Palestinian Zak Hania, a researcher and translator who was trapped in Gaza until earlier this month when he was finally granted permission by Egyptian and Israeli authorities to leave, thanked the crowd for choosing “to stand with justice and to stand with an oppressed people.”

“I am proud to be an Irish Palestinian,” said Hania. “I am proud to see all of you. It is part of my healing… We inherited a dream from our parents. We are trying for all our lives to fulfill our dreams and our parents’ dreams. My parents are dead, but I will work to fulfill their dreams. Their dream is to have a free Palestine.”

Other protests included a rally outside the German embassy in Bangkok, a march of about 400 people in Washington, D.C., and a demonstration in Brooklyn where police violently arrested at least 34 people, according to The New York Times.

Nerdeen Kiswani, founder of pro-Palestinian group Within Our Lifetime, told the Times she witnessed “police indiscriminately grabbing people off the street and the sidewalk. They were grabbing people at random.”

Independent journalists posted videos on social media of police officers punching and kicking protesters.

The latest show of global outrage toward the Israeli government and the Western leaders who have supported its assault on Gaza came as U.N. humanitarian aid officer Yasmina Guerda told U.N. News about her latest deployment to Rafah, where 900,000 people have now been forced to flee following Israel’s incursion in the city.

“We would need to invent brand new words to adequately describe the situation that Palestinians in Gaza find themselves in today,” said Guerda. “No matter where you look, no matter where you go, there’s destruction, there’s devastation, there’s loss. There’s a lack of everything. There’s pain. There’s just incredible suffering. People are living on top of the rubble and the waste that used to be their lives. They’re hungry. Everything has become absolutely unaffordable. I heard the other day that some eggs were being sold for $3 each, which is unthinkable for someone who has no salary and has lost all access to their bank accounts.”

“Access to clean water is a daily battle,” she added. “Many people haven’t been able to change clothes in seven months because they just had to flee with whatever they were wearing. They were given 10 minutes notice and they had to run away. Many have been displaced six, seven, eight times, or more.”

The daily reality described by Guerda is continuing to unfold as the Israeli forces have prevented 3,000 aid trucks from entering Gaza in the past two weeks, according to the Government Media Office in the enclave. The closure of the Rafah and Karem Abu Salem crossings for the past 13 days, since Israel launched its new offensive in Rafah, has also prevented nearly 700 injured and sick people from leaving Gaza for treatment.

“This constitutes a clear danger in light of the collapse of the health system,” said the office.

On Sunday, U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths warned that the blockade on aid is leading to “apocalyptic” consequences, with the famine that has taken hold in parts of northern Gaza close to spreading across the enclave.

“If fuel runs out, aid doesn’t get to the people where they need it, that famine, which we have talked about for so long, and which is looming, will not be looming any more,” said Griffiths. “It will be present.”

By: Julia Conley 

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