Hundreds of Pakistanis took to the streets in several parts of the country today to protest Israel’s siege and fierce bombing on the Gaza Strip, demanding an end to the oppression of the Palestinian people.
Gaza is being bombed by the Israeli military after the Hamas group launched a surprise offensive on Saturday. Israel has put Gaza — home to 2.3 million people — under siege while local authorities said more than 1,500 Palestinians had been killed.
It has vowed to annihilate Hamas but a ground invasion of Gaza poses serious risk with Hamas holding scores of hostages kidnapped in the assault. Public broadcaster Kan said the Israeli death toll had risen to more than 1,300.
After Israel’s military called for all civilians of Gaza City — more than one million people — to relocate south within 24 hours on Friday, the UN urged Tel Aviv to call off the order, warning of the “devastating humanitarian consequences”.
Israeli attacks on Gaza have prompted protests in Paris, New York, Jordan, Morocco, Iraq and Iran among others.
After Friday prayers, Pakistanis from all walks of life held rallies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and parts of Punjab.
The demonstrators raised Palestinian flags and held posters that said ‘From land to the sea, Palestine will be free’ and ‘Stand in solidarity with Palestine’. They also burned Israeli flags.
In Lahore, a huge rally was held at Mall Road by the Jamaat e Islami Pakistan, with scores of women and children in attendance. The protesters carried a giant flag of Palestine.
Addressing the gathering, JI Emir Sirajul Haq criticised the US and European countries for supporting Israel in its oppression of Palestinians. He demanded that Muslim countries should come together for the Palestinian cause.
“Raising our voices for Palestinians is the responsibility of Muslims and a part of their faith,” he added.
On the other hand, the PTI claimed that party members who had taken to the streets in Lahore were arrested by the police.
Several protests were held in Karachi after Friday prayers to express solidarity with Palestinians.
More than 200 supporters of the Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM) gathered in the Kharadar area. They demanded that the atrocities being faced by the people of Gaza at the hands of Israel should immediately come to an end.
In a statement earlier, it said the protest was “against the massacre of the oppressed Palestinian people and the Zionist occupation of the Palestine land”.
Separately, the JI held a solidarity walk from the Maripur Road. The demonstrators would cross Keamari Road and finally conclude the rally outside Bilawal House.
In Malir, JUI-F supporters took to the streets. The party demanded that Muslim world leaders should “break the chains of silence” and speak up for their brothers and sisters, according to a statement.
In KP, protest rallies were also held in the Malakand and Hazara divisions against Israeli atrocities in Gaza Palestine.
The Karakoram Highway was blocked in Kohistan and a rally was staged against Israel’s actions in Gaza. The protesters demanded that the United Nations stop the genocide of Palestinians.
Protester Shahid Husain, 47, said the leaders of Muslim nations were failing to stand up for Palestinians.
“We came to the streets to make our rulers realise that they don’t need to be scared of the US and that the public wants them to be on the side of Palestine — not Israel and America,” he told AFP from Peshawar’s historic Qissa Khwani Bazaar.
A bike rally was also held in Parachinar.
Meanwhile, PTI supporters gathered in Kohat, Peshawar, Hangu and several other cities after the party decided to mark today as “Palestine Solidarity Day”.
In Quetta, a rally was organised by the JUI-F. During the demonstration, protesters condemned Israel’s “brutal oppression” of the Palestinian people and also burned an Israeli flag.
The rally was led by JUI-F’s regional head Maulana Abdul Rehman. Addressing the participants, he renewed support for the people of Gaza.
Similar protests were held by the PML-N, PTI and other local political parties outside the Quetta Press Club. People also took to the streets in Zhob, Jaffarabad and Surab.
The Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen also held a rally in the capital city. The demonstrators held banners that said ‘No compromise on Gaza’ and ‘Stop genocide of Palestinians’.
A number of PTI protesters also took to the streets. However, the party claimed they were arrested by the police.
Earlier, the PTI said it had sought permission from the Islamabad deputy commissioner to hold a public gathering in front of the National Press Club.
However, in a post on X today, the PTI claimed that the local administration had refused to give the permission.
The same day, a party counsel had contended before the Peshawar High Court that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was not allowing the PTI to stage a demonstration in favour of the oppressed Palestinian citizens.
Additional input from Javid Hussain and AFP