Amidst bombs and death, thousands of Palestinians in Gaza protest against Israel's war

Amidst bombs and death, thousands of Palestinians in Gaza protest against Israel's war
It was the first time Palestinians in the Gaza Strip had rushed to the streets en masse to demonstrate against the war since it erupted almost four months ago. 
4 min read
26 January, 2024
Palestinian families flee Khan Younis toward Rafah further south in the Gaza Strip, on January 25, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian armed groups. [Getty]

Thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip demonstrated against Israel's ongoing war on the besieged coastal enclave, calling on the international community to do something against Israel's genocide against Palestinians

On Thursday, residents of Khan Younis city in southern Gaza, currently under an Israeli siege and having experienced several massacres by Israeli forces for more than a week now, rushed to the streets to protest against the war. 

Women, children, men, and the elderly were among the demonstrators who poured out into the streets. 

They carried banners that said, "We want the war to end," "We deserve to live in peace," "We did not commit any fault to kill us in cold blood," and "The world must save our children from death." 

Taha Abu Zarifa, a Palestinian man from Khan Younis, was among the demonstrators. The 42-year-old father of six lost his house and four of his siblings two months ago because of an Israeli airstrike that attacked his home, which is located in the western part of the city. 

"We have been struggling alone for more than 110 days to stay alive amid the ongoing Israeli genocide. The world keeps silent, and neither Israel nor Hamas cares about our lives, so I decided to raise my voice against the war and call on the people around the world to help us stop it," Abu Zarifa said to The New Arab

Live Story

"We need  an immediate ceasefire that would allow us at least to return to our houses and see our losses," Abu Zarifa said, adding, "Our voices must be raised against all those who are involved in this war, and we need to pressure them to end it." 

"I heard that there were many demonstrations held in various countries around the world to express their solidarity with us (…). We must raise our voices and call them to help us stop the war," said Sajeda Abu al-Hatal, a 25-year-old Palestinian woman who also joined the demonstration. 

Abu al-Hatal lost her six brothers and her four-floor house in the al-Shujaiya neighbourhood 40 days ago because of an Israeli airstrike that attacked their house. The survivors left Gaza City and headed to the southern region of the besieged coastal enclave. 

"I was forcibly displaced many times. Initially, I was displaced in the al-Bureij refugee camp in the centre of Gaza, but when the army attacked the nearby house, I left for Khan Younis. Now they [the Israeli army forces] ordered us to leave for Rafah," she said. 

She remarked how she and her family were losing any hope of escaping death and needed to take a real respite from the war and its catastrophic consequences. 

On Wednesday, a day prior, hundreds of Palestinians, primarily those who have been displaced, also demonstrated against the war. During that protest, they called on Arab and European countries to pressure Israel to stop its war in Gaza. 

"We need to return to our houses (…) It is our right to inspect our losses and re-mange our lives based on the new reality imposed on us," Mohammed al-Shaaf, a displaced man, said to TNA during Wednesday's protest.  

Live Story

He said that he and his 12-member family were tired, adding that "it is the time to stop the war and end the genocide against everything here in Gaza (…) our people deserve to live as well as all people do around the world." 

It was the first time Palestinians in the Gaza Strip had rushed to the streets to demonstrate against the war since it erupted almost four months ago. 

Meanwhile, most Jewish Israelis support the war. A poll conducted in the second week of January by researchers at Tel Aviv University found that 51% of Jewish Israelis believe the Israeli army is "using an appropriate amount", and 43% believe Israel's military is using "not enough force in Gaza". 

On Thursday, for a second day in a row, a small group of  Israeli protesters demonstrated at the Kerem Shalom border crossing to picket humanitarian trucks going into the Palestinian enclave while demanding that aid be cut off until the Israeli captives held by Palestinian armed groups in the territory are freed.

On 7 October 2023, Israel declared a large-scale war on Gaza, which has already been under illegal blockade since 2007, after Hamas, the Islamist group ruling the territory, attacked the Israeli military bases and settlements within the "Gaza envelope". 

The attack that day by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups killed about 1,150 and captured more than 200 Israelis, including soldiers in Gaza. Since then, the Israeli army has killed about 26,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 62,000 others, most of whom are children and women.