Pro-Palestinian demonstrators across the globe took to the streets on Saturday to call for a ceasefire after Israel expanded its ground operation in Gaza.
Major world cities, including London, Istanbul, New York, Baghdad and Rome, saw their centers filled with protestors, as Gaza experienced an intense bombardment and an electrical and communications blackout.
Israel has announced the next stage of its war against Hamas is underway, after the militant group killed 1,400 people and took hostages in a surprise attack on October 7.
In London, organizers said hundreds of thousands of demonstrators showed up on Saturday, although Reuters said police estimated the number was between 50,000 and 70,000 people. A march last week saw 100,000 take to the streets.
In videos online, marchers who had taken over central London were heard chanting: “What do we want? Ceasefire. When do we want it? Now.”
One woman told Reuters: “I want a ceasefire. I want peace for people of Gaza. Over the last few days, couple of weeks, I’ve just watched so many babies and children dying.”
“I feel so helpless right now,” she added. “All I felt I could do was come here to demonstrate, to be with people who are in a similar place. Just trying to raise my voice and just try and send a message out to people to bring peace.
You know, my heart is actually breaking right now. I just feel such a loss.”
Police temporarily shut down all lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan on Saturday after a large group of demonstrators rallying in support of Palestinians started heading in that direction.
The demonstration, titled in an Instagram post as “Flood Brooklyn for Gaza,” started at Brooklyn Museum at 3 p.m., continued up to the front of Barclays Center at 4 p.m. and ended at the Brooklyn Bridge, according to a post by Within Our Lifetime, which promoted the demonstrations.
“The more they try and silence us, repress us, push us off the streets, the larger our numbers will be, the louder we will be,” said the Palestinian-led community organization in the post, which spoke of the “Gaza blackout emergency.”
Both UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and US President Joe Biden have supported Israel’s right to defend itself. President Biden, on the day of the Hamas attack, called his support of Israel’s security “rock solid and unwavering.”
European Union leaders have stopped short of calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, instead appealing for humanitarian “pauses.”
On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a crowd of Palestinian supporters in Istanbul that they should leave the rally “with the determination to never allow new Gazas to arise.”
Erdogan had said on Thursday that attacks on Gaza “have long passed the point of being self-defense,” adding, “It is now oppression, atrocity, massacre and barbaric.”
In the Middle East and Asia, thousands repeated displays seen last week in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and the Israeli-occupied West Bank against Israel’s actions in its war on Hamas.
In the West Bank, Palestinian protesters in Hebron called for a global boycott of Israeli products. “Don’t contribute to the killing of the children of Palestine,” they chanted.
More than 2 million people live in the densely populated enclave, where people have faced intense Israeli airstrikes and a growing humanitarian situation, with shortages of water, food and fuel. Half of Gaza’s population are children.
At least 7,950 people have been killed and more than 20,000 others injured in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7, according to the latest figures released by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah, which draws from sources in the Hamas-controlled enclave.