Tens of thousands of protesters gathered on a main thoroughfare in Pakistan’s second-largest city, Lahore, on Sunday to show solidarity with the people of Gaza, where Israeli forces have intensified strikes and launched a ground operation.
Protesters, including women and children, gathered on Canal Road near the Punjab University and marched towards Kalma Square, waving tri-color Palestinian flags and wearing arms and headbands engraved with the slogan “Labbaik ya Gaza” (Aqsa, we are here).
Organized by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), the country’s mainstream religiopolitical party, the march is viewed as one of the biggest rallies held in Pakistan since Oct. 7.
Organizers claimed that over 100,000 people attended the rally, while security officials estimated that the figure was closer to 50,000.
“Palestine will be free,” “Down with Israel,” and “Stop genocide against Palestinians” were among the slogans inscribed on banners and placards carried by protesters.
“Labbaik, Labbaik, Labbaik ya Gaza” ( Gaza we are her
e), thousands chanted in unison as JI chief Siraj-ul-Haq, wearing a “keffiyeh” scarf, and other leaders made a hand-chain to express solidarity with Palestinians.
Denouncing the “world’s silence” over Israel’s bombing of hospitals, schools, and civilian infrastructure in Gaza, Haq said Tel Aviv has failed to compel Palestinians to submit to slavery despite its “brutalities and the support of world governments.”
“At a time when the West is openly supporting Israeli aggression while Muslim rulers are tacitly supporting it, I thank the people of Washington and London for coming out in their hundreds of thousands to support Palestinians,” Haq said, regretting the Muslim world’s “silence,” particularly in Arab countries.
Israel has killed more than 12,300 Palestinians in its air and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip since the surprise offensive by Hamas on Oct.7. The official Israeli death toll, meanwhile, stands at about 1,200.
Thousands of buildings, including hospitals, mosques, and churches, have either bee
n damaged or destroyed in Israel’s relentless strikes on the besieged enclave.
An Israeli blockade has also cut Gaza off from fuel, electricity, and water supplies, and reduced aid deliveries to a trickle.
Israel has rejected growing calls for a cease-fire until the release of hostages held by Hamas.
Source: EN – Anadolu Agency