Spain: Thousands of protesters in Madrid in support of Palestinians demand ceasefire in Gaza and cut ties between Spain and Israel

Several thousand people, carrying placards and banners in support of the Palestinians, marched in Madrid on Saturday to call for a ceasefire in Gaza and the severing of relations between Spain and Israel.

The demonstration, which brought together some 4,000 people according to the authorities, had been organised at the call of around thirty organisations in the run-up to the 76th anniversary of the Nakba (‘catastrophe’ in Arabic), which for the Palestinians recalls the exodus of 760,000 people during the 1948 war after the creation of the State of Israel.

Several demonstrators carried placards denouncing a ‘genocide’ in Gaza and encouraging the ‘resistance’ of the Palestinian people.

‘They forced people to pile up in the south of the Gaza Strip (…) and now they are being moved again from one place to another when there is no longer any safe place’, denounced Jaldia Abubakra, a 57-year-old demonstrator, referring to the evacuations ordered by the Israeli army at Rafah.

In recent days, Spanish students have organised peaceful encampments on campuses in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, joining the protest movement that has emerged in several American and European universities.

The Spanish Rectors’ Conference declared this week that it was committed to “reviewing and, if necessary, suspending” collaboration agreements with Israeli universities and research centres that had not “expressed a firm commitment to peace and respect for international humanitarian law”.

Spain, considered to be the most critical European voice with regard to Israel, is manoeuvring to rally other European capitals behind the idea of recognising a Palestinian state.

According to the European Union’s head of diplomacy, Josep Borrell, Spain, Ireland and Slovenia plan to do so simultaneously on 21 May.

The war broke out on 7 October when Hamas commandos infiltrating from Gaza carried out an unprecedented attack on Israel, killing more than 1,170 people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP report based on official Israeli data. More than 250 people were kidnapped and 128 remain captive in Gaza, 36 of whom are thought to be dead, according to the army.

In response, Israel has promised to wipe out Hamas, which has been in power in Gaza since 2007, and has launched an offensive that has so far claimed 34,971 lives in the Palestinian territory, according to the Islamist movement’s Ministry of Health.

About محمد الفاسي