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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Thousands march for Palestine in Berlin

The demonstration took place under heavy restrictions after authorities lifted a blanket ban on pro-Palestine rallies

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Berlin on Saturday demanding an end to Israel’s “genocide” in Gaza. Local authorities have heavily restricted pro-Palestine protests.

Some 6,000 people marched in the German capital, the DPA press agency reported, although some leftist groups involved in organizing the rally claimed that more than five times that number took part.

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Video footage shot by RT showed crowds holding Palestinian flags and placards reading “stop the genocide,” “how many kids have to die?” and “ceasefire now.”

Berlin and other German cities responded to the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war by banning all pro-Palestine demonstrations. Several illegal protests were held in Berlin, with 65 police officers injured and 174 protesters arrested at a rally that turned violent in the city in late October.

The ban has since been relaxed, with authorized demonstrations permitted. Expressions of support for Hamas or other militant groups, as well as slogans deemed anti-Semitic or anti-Israel are forbidden at these officially sanctioned rallies. German federal law also prohibits the glorification of violence and the burning of the Israeli flag.

On Thursday, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser announced a ban on all pro-Hamas activity and dissolved the German branch of Samidoun, a group that organizes pro-Palestine rallies in Europe and the US. Faeser accused Samidoun of holding “jubilant celebrations” when Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 7.

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The crackdown has been condemned by a group of more than 100 German Jewish intellectuals. In an open letter last month, the group accused police of using anti-Semitism as an excuse “to suppress legitimate and non-violent political expression, which may include criticism of Israel.”

Saturday’s rally was peaceful, with police reporting the arrest of only one person; a woman who allegedly attacked a journalist.

Similar protests were held in cities across Europe, with rallies in Paris and London drawing huge crowds. London’s Metropolitan Police said that they cleared a group of demonstrators who sat in the street blocking a traffic intersection at Oxford Circus, and arrested a total of 11 people throughout the afternoon, one of whom allegedly carried a “placard that could incite hatred.” 

In Paris, thousands of demonstrators marched in defiance of a ban on pro-Palestinian protests. The crowd were heard chanting “Israel assassin, Macron accomplice,” referring to French President Emmanuel Macron’s offer of troops to fight Hamas.