ATHENS, Greece — The Israeli attack on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which began on June 27, has provoked worldwide condemnation. Protest rallies and mass mobilizations were organized on all continents within hours of the attack.
The protests were expected to continue until such time as the Israeli government ceases its bombing attacks on Gaza’s population and civilian infrastructure.
The demands of the demonstrators varied. In addition to widespread calls for the immediate withdrawal of Israel’s invasion forces, some protesters demanded the release of at least 1,500 of the 9,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, including 500 women and children, as a step toward a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
Mass actions in support of the struggle of the Palestinian people were held in Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, South Africa, Indonesia, Cuba, Canada and the United States, to name just a few countries.
The World Peace Council, with affiliates in over 100 countries, expressed its “vehement condemnation” of “the recent barbaric and murderous bombing and invasion of Israeli military forces in the Gaza Strip” and demanded an immediate end to the offensive and the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces. Its statement added, “There can be only peace with the establishment of an independent state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital,” alongside Israel within its 1967 borders.
Significant was the full-page advertisement published in the British Times newspaper by the organization “Jews for Justice for the Palestinians,” which categorically condemned the invasion: “Israel is using its enormously superior military might to terrorize an entire people. Gilad Shalit has become a pawn in the Israeli government’s ongoing battle to topple the democratically elected government of the Palestinians. For the U.S. and its allies merely to call for ‘restraint’ is desperately inadequate. This is a situation that requires determined action by the international community.”
The condemnation was signed by 300 British Jews, among them the world famous playwright Harold Pinter and renowned history professor Eric J. Hobsbawm.
In Greece, the Communist Party, alongside trade unions, peace groups, women’s organizations and other movements, swung into action from the very first moment of the attack. Rallies were organized in Greece’s three largest cities — Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras — demanding the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces.
The demonstrators condemned not only the Israeli government, but also the imperialist support given to it by the United States and the European Union.
A July 9 protest action called by the All-Workers Militant Front (PAME) outside the U.S. Embassy in Athens, followed by a march to the Israeli Embassy, drew wide support. A similar action was held in Thessaloniki. In its call for the protest, PAME said, “The Israeli army has carried out a series of murderous attacks on the Palestinian people. Humanity is witnessing the development of an unprecedented barbarism, fully supported by the U.S.A. and NATO.”
The statement continued, “All those of us who stand with our feet firmly on the ground and our heads high are obliged to resist, to reveal the truth, to condemn, and to express our internationalism and our workers’ solidarity. The struggle of the Palestinian people is our struggle.”
Picket marches and vigils continue to be organized on a daily basis in different cities throughout Greece.