Pro-Palestinian rallies in Asia as Gaza death toll climbs
In Sydney an estimated 3,000 people demonstrated outside the city’s Town Hall to condemn the military offensive
Thousands of protesters from Australia to India rallied to voice their support for Palestinians on Sunday, while Pope Francis has led tens of thousands of people in a silent prayer for an end to the warfare in the Mideast as Israel mounted a ground assault in Gaza and the death toll from air strikes climbed.
In Sydney an estimated 3,000 people demonstrated outside the city’s Town Hall to condemn the military offensive, shouting “Free, free Palestine; free, free Gaza” and holding signs declaring “Shame Israel Shame.”
“Israel is targeting the civilians of Gaza with these bombings, and that is shameful and that is what we condemn,” Greens party senator Lee Rhiannon told the crowd.
As Israel’s air campaign in the Gaza Strip entered its sixth day, the overall death toll rose to 165 with more than 1,000 injured and the UN Security Council called on both sides to declare a ceasefire.
In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, about 500 people marched in the capital Jakarta shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) and carrying Palestinian flags and posters of children killed in the offensive.
“This is a show of solidarity for our Muslim brothers and sisters in Gaza who are being oppressed by Israeli occupiers. We Indonesian Muslims share their suffering and pain,” activist Adityo Nugroho told AFP.
Israel began Operation Protective Edge before dawn on Tuesday in an attempt to halt cross-border rocket fire by militant groups.
In Hong Kong organizers of a pro-Palestinian rally said about 300 people, mostly from the city’s Muslim community took part.
Some held up banners depicting the Israeli flag with the star of David replaced by a swastika, as protesters marched through the streets in the sweltering heat.
Pope leads crowd in silent prayer
Meanwhile, Pope Francis has led tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square in unannounced, silent prayer for an end to the warfare in the Mideast, the Associated Press reported.
Francis called for insistent prayers for peace in the Holy Land during his Sunday window appearance to pilgrims and tourists.
He said he didn’t consider “in vain” the June 8 peace prayer gathering he hosted at the Vatican attended by the Israeli and Palestinian presidents. Francis, who made a Mideast pilgrimage in May, urged people to avoid concluding that “violence and hatred win out over dialogue and reconciliation.”
Last week, Israel widened its air assault on the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers, and militant rockets have targeted Israel. Francis lamented the recent “tragic events.”
International diplomacy is aiming to stop the warfare.
(With AFP and Associated Press)
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