Monday, January 12, 2009

250,000 Spaniards denounce Israel's bloodshed

Mon, 12 Jan 2009 04:58:13 GMT  |

People take part in a demonstration in downtown Madrid.
In the largest pro-Palestinian demonstration in Europe so far, over 250,000 Spaniards denounce Israel's bloodshed in Gaza and call for ceasefire.

Protesters in Spain's capital Madrid and in other cities, including Seville, Malaga,Oviedo, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Ourense, carried banners saying 'Peace', 'SOS Gaza' and placards with the word 'Gaza' above a red-stained hand and mock blood-spattered bodies of children.

Police declined to give a figure but the organizers, which included the Socialist Party and trade unions, estimated the Sunday turnout at 250,000.

"It is my duty to call on Israel to implement an immediate cease-fire," Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who had attended the rally, told protesters in Ourense.

Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem's mother Pilar, also an actress, was among the speakers who addressed the crowd.

"The Spanish government has to do something. The Gaza Strip is now practically a concentration camp," AP quoted her as saying.

Sunday's protests are a follow-up of Barcelona's mass demonstration the previous day, where police estimated the crowd around 30,000 but according to organizers accounts, 100,000 people took to the streets. The demonstration was organized by an alliance of groups, which in the past had organized mass protests against the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Spain has a Muslim community of around 800,000 out of a 46.1 million population.

Meanwhile, 30,000 people protested in Brussels on Sunday denouncing the Israeli carnage in Gaza. Children carrying effigies of dead and bloodied babies were at the head of the procession.

Also in the Italian cities of Rome, Naples and Verona, thousands of people marched in pro-Palestinian rallies.

Protesters take part in a rally in central Athens.
In Athens, Greece, dozens of children and their parents, carrying effigies and photos of bloodied children, marched to protest Israel's incursion and bloodshed in Gaza.

Latest figures show 900 Palestinians and 33 Israelis have been killed since Israel's onslaught on Gaza that began on December 27. More than 276 of the Palestinians killed are children. Over 4,000 Palestinians and 80 Israeli have also been wounded. 

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