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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - MANILA: Filipino protesters from civil society, the Catholic church, and academia demonstrated in Manila on Saturday to demand an unconditional ceasefire in Gaza and an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
Hundreds of protesters marched from Roxas Boulevard toward the US Embassy carrying Palestinian flags and banners reading: “Ceasefire now,” “We don’t want a graveyard of children in Gaza,” “Stop the genocide,” and “You’re a Filipino, you know what it means to be occupied … don’t be neutral.”
The demonstration was held as a four-day pause in attacks was in place, with Israel having agreed to stop the daily bombardment in exchange for the release of its hostages held by the Gaza-based militant group Hamas.
Philippine protesters said a temporary ceasefire was not enough as they feared that Israel would continue its bombardment campaign, which in the past 45 days has killed at least 14,800 people and wounded tens of thousands more in the besieged Palestinian enclave.
“For more than a month now, Israel has waged a brutal war against the Palestinian people living in Gaza. We have seen in real-time the non-stop bombings and air strikes, including that of hospitals and refugee camps, the denial of humanitarian aid and basic services like electricity, water, internet communications, fuel and even food,” BAYAN President Renato Reyes told Arab News.
“The genocide is sure to intensify as Israel’s ground invasion steps up, threatening to engulf not only neighboring countries in the Middle East but the entire world.”
Those who showed up for the solidarity rally included Catholic priests who called for a free Palestine.
“We want a free Palestine like we want a free Philippines,” said Rory Del Rosario from the Union Theological Seminary.
Wesley Cabansag, from the same seminary, told Arab News they were there as they believed that Jesus would stand up for the oppressed.
“And I know if Jesus Christ were here, he would also take the side of the Palestinian children, the Palestinians,” he said.
Drieza A. Lininding, chairman of the Moro Consensus Group, which co-organized the rally, said Saturday’s march was not only a call to end Israeli violence, occupation, and apartheid, but also to call for the restoration of international law, which Tel Aviv has consistently and openly violated, setting a precedent for such violations to happen across the world.
“We need to show to the world that respect and follow international law and international humanitarian law,” he said. “We never know when we (ourselves) are going to need it also.”
Bing Parcon from the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights said: “We are working in solidarity with the people in Gaza because we believe that what is happening now in Gaza can also happen to anyone if people do not unite.
“And also, of course, we are against the occupation. Free Gaza and the Palestinian people. It’s their land and it’s their right to be in their land.”
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