Protest demands “boycotts, sanctions and disinvestment for Israel”
With the Israeli stance on the future of the war in Gaza becoming increasingly unpopular – even among countries that are meant to be its allies – thousands of people turned out in Lisbon this afternoon to call (yet again) for an end to what they see as “a genocide”
As the streams of people weilding placards, banners and waving Palestinian flags thronged through Avenida Almirante Reis towards Martim Moniz this afternoon, elsewhere, in Porto, Braga, Angra do Heroísmo (Azores) and Faro, other protests were taking place.
Among the crowds were “demonstrators from various backgrounds, including Palestinians and Jews”, says Lusa – putting its finger on the differences that have emerged from this bloody conflict. Jews now are seen to be separate from ‘Zionists’, led as they are by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is refusing all entreaties to pull back and spare innocent lives.
As today’s protest took place in Portugal, Israel was still reported to be focused on a ground offensive in Rafah where millions of Palestinians have been ‘sheltering’ from bombardments.
Humanitarian officials have warned of a “bloodbath” should the ground offensive go ahead. Israeli citizens are equally horrified: they have been taking part in demonstrations today demanding the government resign, that there is a ceasefire with Hamas and that the hostages – those that are still alive – are finally released.
Portugal’s left wing politicians have been the political class most supporting protests here calling for an end to the bloodshed. Today’s march was attended by members of the Left Bloc, PCP communists and PAN.
The chants this afternoon included: “What do we want from parliament? Boycotts, sanctions and disinvestment”; “Gaza, listen we shout your struggle”.
Says Lusa, many of the chants came in English “reflecting the diversity of nationalities” that came together this afternoon.
When questioned by Lusa, police who accompanied the protest declined to give any figures on the turnout. The organisation calculated “between three and four thousand” people. That is obviously not counting the numbers that turned out in other parts of the country.
Meantime, the caretaker government has shown that it too is staunchly behind calls for a ceasefire. Only last week it ‘bucked the trend’ of the moment adopted by certain countries in freezing funding of a Palestinian aid programme, on the basis that people working within it were connected to Hamas.