Several thousand people gathered in Sarajevo city center on Sunday, waving Palestinian and Bosnian flags and demanding a halt to the Israeli offensive in Gaza.
Some chanted: “Genocide, genocide,” while a large and prominent banner read “Yesterday Srebrenica, today Gaza,” referring to the 1995 massacre in the Bosnian town, Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two in which Serb forces killed an estimated 8,000 Muslim men and boys.
Other demonstrators held banners with slogans including “Stop the war” and “Free Palestine.”
Bosnia is still recovering from its 1992-95 war, which left the country divided between two entities – Republika Srpska with a majority Serb Christian Orthodox population, and the Bosniak-Croat Federation which has a majority Muslim population.
Regionwide, smaller pro-Palestinian protests took place on Sunday in Belgrade and the Montenegrin capital Podgorica.
Fears over the Israel-Hamas war mushrooming into a wider Middle East conflict rose on Sunday as Israel, in continued reprisal actions for a deadly Hamas attack two weeks ago, pummeled Gaza anew amid clashes along its border with Lebanon.
Sarajevo Mayor Benjamina Karic told protesters the city knew “how it is to live without water and food and see children being killed,” referring to the 1992-95 siege during which Serb forces killed an estimated 11,000 people in the city including 1,600 children.
About 100,000 protesters join pro-Palestinian march through London
About 100,000 people joined a pro-Palestinian demonstration in central London on Saturday, marching through the British capital to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza following the Hamas attack on Israel two weeks ago.
Chanting “Free Palestine,” holding banners and waving Palestinian flags, the protesters moved through London before massing at Downing Street, the official residence and office of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Police estimated 100,000 people had taken part in the “National March for Palestine” demonstration, organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
“As a Palestinian who’d like to return home one day, as a Palestinian who has brothers and sisters in Gaza, and family, I wish we can do more but protest is what we can do at the minute,” one woman, who declined to give her name, told Reuters.
Many of the chants and banners contained strong anti-Israeli slogans, and one protester held a banner with pictures of Sunak, US President Joe Biden, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the message “Wanted For War crimes.”
Police had cautioned before the march that anyone showing support for Hamas, banned as a terrorist organization in Britain, would face arrest, and any incident of hate crime would not be tolerated.
The protest was mostly peaceful, and police said they had made 10 arrests.
Figures on Friday showed there had been a 1,353% increase in antisemitic offenses this month compared to the same period last year, while Islamophobic offenses were up 140%.
“This has been an issue which has long stimulated passions and we are now all seeing on social media and in our communities, how divisive and polarizing the current situation has become,” British foreign minister James Cleverly said at a peace summit in Cairo.
Thousands in Australia join pro-Palestinian march over Gaza
Thousands took part in a pro-Palestinian march in Australia’s biggest city, Sydney, on Saturday, getting last-minute approval amid concerns after some protesters at an earlier rally had chanted anti-Jewish slogans.
Protesters worldwide on Friday demanded an end to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza after nearly two weeks of intense air and artillery strikes that authorities in the narrow strip say have killed 4,100 people.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Friday to “fight until victory” in Gaza, signaling no pause in his military’s bombardment and expected invasion of the enclave over Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, which 1,400 in Israel and seized hostages.
In Sydney, Australia’s biggest city, around 15,000 people attended Saturday’s march, organizer Palestine Action Group said, with demonstrators chanting “Palestine will never die” and waving Palestine flags. Police, including officers on horseback, patrolled the event that closed city streets, and a police helicopter circled overhead.
Police said no arrests had been made, and Palestine Action Group spokesperson Amal Naser said the march was peaceful.
Protester Barbara O’Neill described Palestinians as “my brothers and sisters,” saying, “They have been suffering genocide publicly and in a very high-profile way.”
Rally-goer James McGlone said people had a “right to know what’s going on with the Palestinians… If they knew what the state of Israel has done and is continuing to do, they would support Palestine.”
A protester who gave her name only as Doaa, said: “I’m here because this is a humanitarian cause first and foremost. And I’m supporting, you know, humanity in every way.”
But Alex Ryvchin, co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the top group for Australia’s Jewish community, said Saturday’s Sydney rally “incited more hatred in Australia” and fractured “fragile social cohesion.”
A rally outside the Sydney Opera House two days after the Hamas attack had ignited heated debate after a small group were filmed chanting “Gas the Jews.”
Pro-Palestine rallies were also scheduled on Saturday in state capitals Brisbane, Perth and Hobart, Palestine Action Group said, after thousands attended largely well behaved rallies around Australia last weekend.
Jordan disperses pro-Palestinian protesters heading to border with West Bank
Jordanian riot police on Friday forcibly dispersed hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters trying to reach a border zone with the Israeli-occupied West Bank as thousands held anti-Israel demonstrations across the country, witnesses said.
Jordan is worried that a regional widening of violence arising from the war between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in Gaza could have repercussions for itself given that a large percentage of its population are Palestinians.
Jordan lost the West Bank including East Jerusalem to Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and the Palestinian territory was seeing a rise in violence between Palestinians and the Israeli military and settlers even before the Gaza conflict erupted.
Witnesses said police fired tear gas to halt about 500 demonstrators who had reached a security checkpoint outside the capital Amman on a highway leading to a main border crossing.
The interior ministry had issued a ban against holding anti-Israel marches in the sensitive border area, where it said the Jordan river valley was closed to protesters but that licensed protests elsewhere would be allowed.
The outpouring of Arab anger against Israel over its siege and bombardment of Gaza retaliating for a devastating cross-border Hamas attack also fueled a large rally on Friday in downtown Amman and in many of the kingdom’s main cities.
Several thousand protesters near downtown Amman chanted slogans in support of Hamas and demanded the government close the Israeli embassy and scrap the 1994 peace treaty with Israel.
In the cities of Irbid and Zarqa, thousands took to the streets carrying Hamas flags, vowing revenge against Israel and calling on the militant movement, which rules Gaza, to escalate strikes.
The peace treaty remains widely unpopular among Jordanians who see normalization with Israel as a sellout of the rights of their Palestinian brethren seeking to establish a state in Israeli-occupied territories.
The Israeli embassy, where protesters gather daily, has long been a flashpoint of anti-Israel protests at times of turmoil in the Palestinian territories.