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Over 1,000 people gather in Czech capital to call for cease-fire in Gaza

Anadolu Agency EUROPE
Published February 19,2024

More than a thousand people took to the streets of the Czech Republic's capital Prague on Sunday to demand an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and that the government review its pro-Israel policies.

The protesters expressed their anger over Israel's planned military strikes in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, saying it would endanger the lives of roughly 1.4 million Palestinians who are currently sheltering there in cramped conditions.

They called Israel's ongoing onslaught on Gaza a "genocide in broad daylight."

The protest march, organized by Palestinian activists, was attended by people from all walks of life including students, members of academia, professionals and even tourists visiting the city. A number of protesters carried flags and placards demanding a cease-fire and criticizing US policy on the Gaza war.

They gathered in a park near the Namesti Miru metro station and marched to Wenceslas Square.

Lamis Khalilova Bartusek, a Palestinian-Czech activist and one of the organizers of the protest, said while speaking to the gathering that the blatant one-sided pro-Israel coverage from Czech state and private media is one of the reasons behind the country's pro-Israel stance even in the time of a war that is marred by human rights abuses by Israeli forces.

She asked the participants to become the voice of Palestine through their social media accounts and tag local Czech media to demand fair coverage from them.

One of the speakers at the protest was a woman from Gaza who arrived in Prague a day before the war started. She told the participants that she lost her brother on Saturday. Her speech left many teary-eyed.

The protestors also performed the traditional Arab folk dance Dabke, calling it a "dance of resistance" holding a Palestinian identity.

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7 attack by the Palestinian group Hamas. The ensuing Israeli attacks have killed nearly 29,000 and caused mass destruction and shortages of necessities, while less than 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.