Tens of Thousands Protest for Palestinians Across London and New York

As Israel widened its offensive in Gaza, demonstrations demanded an immediate ceasefire.

Protestors demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza staged a sit-in en masse at Manhattan's Grand Central Station on Friday.Renault/Zuma

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Scores of protestors gathered in New York on Friday night in support of a ceasefire following Israel’s expansion of its ongoing siege of Gaza. Soon after, tens of thousands joined large-scale marches through the streets of London on Saturday morning, demanding an end to the widening bombardment.

Friday night’s protests in New York took place in Manhattan’s Grand Central Station and was organized by Jewish Voices for Peace, which bills itself as “the largest progressive Jewish anti-Zionist organization in the world.” The group staged a similar protest on Capitol Hill earlier this month. On Friday, protestors took over the main atrium of the train station for a sit in, and chanted “cease fire now” and “let Gaza live,” many wearing black shirts that said “not in our name” and “ceasefire now.” Two protestors stood on a ledge with a sign that read “Never again for anyone.” 

According to the New York Times, as many as 1,000 people attended the Grand Central Station protest. The Times reported that police had initially tried to block entrances to keep protestors from streaming in, but were unable to do so. Organizers told the media that roughly 300 protesters were arrested as a part of the protest. 

Online, activists and celebrities like filmmaker Michael Moore voiced support for the protests.

Large-scale protests continued the next day in London where thousands of protesters poured onto the streets near Big Ben and marched on the Westminster Bridge towards ​​the Houses of Parliament, passing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Downing Street office.

Hundreds of protestors also took over the Waterloo Station in London, with a sit-in in support of a ceasefire. 

Both the U.S. and U.K. governments have provided substantial aid to Israel, but have so far resisted calls for a ceasefire, even as the death toll in Gaza has risen to 7,703 people, including 3,195 children, according to local health authorities, as the Israeli military has leveled residential buildings with sustained air strikes. Israel launched the attack on Gaza following a Hamas offensive, in which the group killed 1,400, many of whom were Israeli civilians. On Friday, Israel expanded its siege of Gaza by announcing that it was introducing ground operations after over a week of airstrikes on the densely populated area. Gaza also experienced another internet blackout during bombing on Friday which Palestinian activists and authorities believe is the result of Israeli action.

The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the blackout was causing ambulances to be blocked and thwarting evacuations of patients, according to Reuters.

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