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Germany: Thousands march in support of Gazans

October 21, 2023

Germany saw demonstrations in support of civilians trapped in Gaza Saturday amid heavy police presence. Authorities say the events drew more participants than expected but were largely peaceful.

Demonstrators waving Palestinian flags at a demonstration in the western German city of Düsseldorf on Saturday, October 21, 2023
Authorities say as many as 7,000 people turned out in support of Palestinians Saturday in Düsseldorf, GermanyImage: Sascha Thelen/dpa/picture alliance

As elsewhere around the world, Saturday saw thousands in Germany take to the streets in support of Palestinians trapped in Gaza.

Demonstrators called for an end to violence in Gaza. Israeli airstrikes targeting Hamas in the Gaza Strip have killed more than 4,000 Palestinians in recent weeks, according to Gaza's Hamas-run Health Ministry.   

Hamas launched terror attacks on Israel on October 7 — killing more than 1,400 Israeli civilians, with some 200 people also taken hostage by the militant group. Hamas is deemed a terrorist organization by the US, Germany, Israel and other countries. 

As Israel has sought to dismantle Hamas, the Israel government has imposed a total blockade on Gaza. The siege has led to a humanitarian crisis among Gaza's 2.2 million residents.   

What happened during the demos in Germany?

Police say pro-Palestinian demonstrations took place in Cologne, Frankfurt, Hanover, Karlsruhe, Münster and Stuttgart. The largest, however, appears to have taken place in the western German city of Düsseldorf, where an estimated 7,000 people marched under the motto, "For peace, justice, and human dignity in Palestine."

Police in several cities said many more people showed up for the events than organizers had estimated but noted that they remained largely peaceful. The events were all accompanied by a heavy police presence.

In Münster, roughly 1,000 people took part in a pro-Palestinian march. Another 700 gathered for what was billed as an "action alliance against all antisemitism."

Police say there were no clashes between the two, though two leaders of the pro-Palestinian march were temporarily detained for refusing to stop illegal chants. Both were released after the event.

People in Gaza endure Israeli attacks as they wait for aid

Berlin bans demonstrations for fear of anti-Israeli violence

A march scheduled to take place in central Berlin on Sunday, however, has been canceled by police, who cited the "imminent danger" of incitement, antisemitic slogans and violence or the glorification thereof at the event. 

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser on Friday said that although everyone in Germany has the right to demonstrate and freely express their option, "there is a clear red line: no tolerance for antisemitic or anti-Israel agitation and no tolerance for violence."

Sunday's event was the latest of several to be canceled in the capital, with Berlin authorities announcing that all substitute events will be banned until at least October 30.

Germany intensifies security around Jewish institutions

Despite such bans, some pro-Palestinian demonstrators have taken to Berlin's streets anyway, resulting in clashes with police and arrests.

In the UK, about 100,000 people joined a pro-Palestinian demonstration in central London on Saturday. Waving Palestinian flags and shouting "Free Palestine," protesters headed to 10 Downing Street — the home of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak — to call for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

js/rc,wd (AP, dpa)

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