21,000 people march in Brussels in solidarity with Palestine

21,000 people march in Brussels in solidarity with Palestine
Solidarity demonstration with Palestine in the center of Brussels, Saturday 11 November 2023. Credit: Belga / Timon Ramboer

An estimated 21,000 people joined a solidarity march for Palestine in Brussels on Saturday, according to initial police reports. Organisers claim there were 45,000 participants.

The event, called the "European March for Palestine", kicked off around 14:30 from Brussels North Station. Various Belgian civil society representatives called for the European Union and its member states to ramp up efforts to immediately establish a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

The march was backed by around 40 civil society organisations, including the FGTB, the CNCD-11.11.11, the Palestinian Community of Belgium and Luxembourg, and the Belgian Committee in Support of the Sahrawi People. A press release ahead of the event explained "the urgent need to ensure that international law is respected... and demand an immediate ceasefire to save human lives."

Participants marched through the city centre to Midi Station where speakers addressed the crowd from 16:30. Among the various prominent figures present were Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) movement, which campaigns for economic, cultural and political action against Israel.

The BDS movement has three objectives: ending the Israeli occupation, achieving equality between Jews and Palestinians in Israel and implementing the right of return of the refugees. In 2018, Barghouti was invited to the European Parliament. He is known to oppose the two-state solution and has been accused of inciting hatred and violence.

The EU rejects the BDS campaign’s attempts to isolate Israel and is opposed to any boycott of Israel.

Solidarity with Palestine march in the center of Brussels, Saturday 11 November 2023. Credit: Belga / Timon Ramboer

Also present at the movement were representatives Union of Jewish Progressives of Belgium, who emphasised the importance of separating "anti-Semitism and criticism of the State of Israel".

Gregory Mauzé, spokesperson for the Belgian-Palestinian Association, pointed out that while Belgium has made several favourable decisions such as supporting the International Criminal Court investigation, more action is needed. He suggested a military embargo on Israel.

French President Emmanuel Macron urged Israel to cease bombings killing civilians in Gaza on Friday evening. Israel announced a "tactical" pause in the fighting and has set up two evacuation corridors. The military activities were halted between 10:00 and 14:00 for "humanitarian purposes", according to the Israeli army's post on platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Also on Saturday 11 November, a major march took place in London to demand a ceasefire in Gaza. Police reported that 300,000 participants joined in one of the largest ever public marches in the nation's history. The event coincided with Armistice Day and was marked by violent counter-protests by far-right antagonists.

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