LONDON: Thousands of people were rallying in Berlin and London on Sunday to oppose antisemitism and support Israel, while demonstrations in support of Palestinians in besieged Gaza continued around the world.
Some of those who gathered in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate carried Israeli flags or posters with photos of some of the more than 200 people seized by Hamas as hostages during the militants’ deadly Oct. 7 incursion into Israel.
“It is unbearable that Jews are living in fear again today — in our country of all places,” President Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the crowd. “Every single attack on Jews, on Jewish institutions is a disgrace for Germany. Every single attack fills me with shame and anger.”
Earlier, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz inaugurated a new synagogue in the eastern city of Dessau and said he was “outraged” by the upsurge in antisemitism since the conflict began.
Several buildings in Berlin where Jews live had the star of David painted on doors and walls, and assailants threw two Molotov cocktails at a synagogue in Berlin last week.
“Here in Germany, of all places,” Scholz said, vowing that “our ‘never again’ must be unbreakable.”
In London, the Board of Deputies of British Jews called for people to rally in Trafalgar Square on Sunday afternoon to press for the return of more than 200 people taken hostage by Hamas.
The war has raised tensions worldwide, leaving Jewish and Muslim communities feeling under threat. London’s Metropolitan Police force says it has seen a 13-fold upsurge in reports of antisemitic offenses in October compared to last year. Reports of anti-Muslim crimes have more than doubled.
Sunday’s rallies came a day after tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators — 100,000 by police estimates — marched through the British capital to demand Israel stop its bombardment of Gaza. Waving Palestinian flags and chanting “Stop bombing Gaza,” participants called for an end to Israel’s blockade and airstrikes launched in the wake of Hamas’ brutal incursion.
Authorities in Gaza say more than 4,600 people have been killed in the territory since the latest war began. More than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel, majority of them civilians slain in the Oct. 7 attack.
Israel intensified its bombardment of Gaza ahead of an expected ground offensive. Egyptian media said 17 trucks carrying humanitarian aid crossed into the besieged strip on Sunday, after 20 trucks were allowed to enter Gaza on Saturday across the southern Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
On Sunday hundreds of people gathered in Sarajevo — bombed and besieged during the Bosnian war in the 1990s — to show solidarity with the plight of Palestinians in Gaza.
“What is happening in Gaza is simply human disaster. Collective punishment. War crimes. These things have to be named by their rightful name,” said Nabil Naser, a Palestinian doctor who worked in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war.
More than 3,000 people attended a “Freedom for Palestine” rally on Sunday at a square in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Waving Palestinian flags and to the beat of drums, protesters including women and children chanted “Palestine will never die” and “From the rivers to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
Malaysia is a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause and has no diplomatic ties with Israel. Muslims in the country have staged weekly rallies after Friday prayers outside the American Embassy, slamming the U.S. for its support of Israel.
Retiree Munir Izwan urged neighbors of the Palestinians to step up efforts to help.
“Even in Islamic teachings, the closest neighbors should help the most in making peace between the two parties. But from what I see, the neighboring countries of Palestine, they are only talking but no actions,” Munir said.
Demonstrations of support of the Palestinians were held Saturday across Europe — in Rome, Barcelona, several French cities, Düsseldorf, Germany and the Kosovo capital, Pristina — as well as in Sydney and in U.S. cities including Los Angeles and Houston.
In Istanbul, protesters outside the Israeli Consulate on Saturday evening held children’s stuffed toys to draw attention to the large number of Palestinian children killed in Gaza. Protesters affiliated with Islamic groups held signs reading “I have a right to play” and held up toys with signs on them that called on Israel to “stop murdering innocent children.”__VOA News