Thousands of pro-Palestinian Arab demonstrators turned out on the streets of London and Paris on Friday to call for an end to Israeli military strikes on Gaza.
According to The Associated Press (AP), several thousand people crowded the streets outside the Israeli Embassy in west London, waving placards that read "Gaza: End the Siege" and "Freedom for Palestine."
The crowds blocked an entire road and several protesters managed to climb on top of a double-decker bus stuck in traffic, but police said the protest was largely peaceful, according to the report.
A smaller protest took place in Paris, where about 100 people demonstrated near the French Foreign Ministry.
Demonstrators waved PLO flags. One woman shouted "Palestine will survive" had the flag painted on her cheeks.
Stephane Frappreau, who identified himself as Jewish, told AP the demonstrations were about "defending humanity and about stopping the massacre."
"I think that people tend to forget that Palestinians are people who are suffering, kids and women, who are dying every day," Frappreau said. "And I think that people shouldn't confuse things or come to quick conclusions, because being against Israel as we are today is not about being anti-Semitic."
The French government has been walking a careful line on the Gaza developments, noted AP.
President Francois Hollande issued a statement earlier this week in support of Israel that prompted criticism because it failed to mention Palestinian Arab victims. He later spoke with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) Chaiman Mahmoud Abbas, then issued new statements expressing support for each and concern for all victims. He condemned violence and urged a return to peace talks.
More demonstrations were planned for the weekend, according to the report.
In London, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron said earlier he supported Israel in the face of attacks by Hamas against Israeli civilians.
While a host of international leaders, including the United States, have condemned the rocket fire from Gaza and expressed support for Israel’s right to defend itself, there has also been criticism of the Israeli operation in Gaza.
Perhaps the most vocal criticism came from South Africa, where the ruling party on Thursday issued a statement in which it compared Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza to the actions of the Nazis during World War II.
The statement invoked outrage from South Africa’s Jewish community, which demanded that the Deputy Secretary General of the African National Congress apologize for the comparison.
In addition, a group of 34 leftist charities and other non-governmental organizations signed a statement Friday urging an end to Operation Protective Edge.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)