Europeans Take to Streets to Protest Gaza Violence | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 17.01.2009
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Europeans Take to Streets to Protest Gaza Violence

Thousands rallied around Europe on Saturday to protest against Israel's assault in the Gaza Strip. Protesters highlighted the numbers of Palestinian women and children killed in the war entering its fourth week.

Protestors march during a pro-Palestinian demonstration against the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip on Jan. 17, 2009, in Paris. The banner reads Israel, USA, Murderers

Israel and the United States were heavily criticized by protesters

Several thousand people, many carrying Palestinian and Lebanese flags, marched through the center of Paris behind a banner declaring "Palestinian resistance: Stop the French-Israeli collaboration."

About 1,200 people took the streets of the western German city of Duisburg to protest against violence in the Gaza Strip and to call for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. Smaller demonstrations were also held in several other German cities, including Cologne and Bochum.

British police estimated that 3,500 rallied in Trafalgar Square for a protest billed as a "demonstration against Israel's barbarity and war crimes."

In Athens, more than 1,000 demonstrators gathered in central Syntagma Square and marched to the Israeli embassy, led by some 30 Palestinian immigrants and holding banners reading "Free Palestine" and "Stop the massacre now."

Children brought to protests

People standing near mock grave stones stand in central Istanbul

Amnesty built mock graves in Turkey for children killed in the Gaza Strip

The UN European headquarters was the rallying point in Geneva for hundreds to protest Israel's attacks on Gaza which have left at least 1,200 Palestinians dead including 410 children.

The demonstrators, many of whom were wearing white T-shirts or were draped in white cloth marked with "Gaza" in red, chanted "Israel, terrorist" and "Stop the massacre of Palestinian people."

Many children were also present at the Geneva protest, some carrying "Stop the massacre" placards and marching within the circle of protesters.

Israel's main ally the United States was a target of protesters' anger in Turkey, where around 400 activists from a pro-Islamic group rallied across from the US embassy in Ankara.

They held banners reading "Down with the great Satan!" and "USA: You are shareholders of the crime organization Israel" as riot police prevented them from approaching the embassy building.

Some support for Israel

Protesters in Paris carry a sign reading Legalized Genocide, Israel Murders

While most protests, this one included, criticized Israel, a few supported the Jewish state

On Istanbul's main commercial street, activists from Amnesty International erected mock gravestones marked with "Killed while helping the injured" and "Died because of lack of medicines" to protest the deaths of civilians in Gaza.

No major incidents were reported in the European demonstrations. In Paris the window of a McDonald's restaurant was broken along the protesters' march route.

Though Europeans have displayed chiefly pro-Palestinian sentiment in most demonstrations, support for Israel could be seen Saturday in Duisburg as well as the Swiss capital Bern at a rally that drew some 1,500 people.

Karl-Hartmut Moerschel, who heads the Bern section of the Swiss-Israel association, called for a minute of silence for all the victims of the war, Israeli and Palestinians alike.

He told the gathering that the current offensive in Gaza was "necessary and fair."

On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and three civilians have been killed in combat or in rocket strikes by militants in Gaza, who have fired more than 700 rockets and mortar rounds into Israel since the start of the war, according to the Israeli army.

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