Mumbai: People hold rally at Azad Maidan to protest against Gaza massacre

May 16, 2018, 07:02 IST | Hemal Ashar

Demonstrators at Azad Maidan rally to show that India stands in solidarity with Palestine, even as casualties mount

Protests near Azad Maidan yesterday against the US embassy's move and Israeli aggression. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
Protests near Azad Maidan yesterday against the US embassy's move and Israeli aggression. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

The India-Palestine Solidarity Forum along with several Muslim organisations and leftist supporters protested Israeli action in Gaza, near the CST subway on Tuesday afternoon. The protesters may have been few in number, but the air was full of ire at the massacre in Gaza where 59 Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops, as the seven-week-long March of Return reached its bloody apogee on manic Monday.

What happened?
The Palestinians have been charging a fence, which borders Gaza, intermittently for seven weeks now, calling it the great March of Return. Their aim is to breach the fence and reach their homeland, which, they say, was taken away by Israel. There were Palestinian casualties through these weeks, which reached a high on Monday, coinciding with the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem. The move by Donald Trump was the spark to a powder keg. Israel's stand, backed by US, was that Israel has a right to defend its people and its borders.

With Palestine
For Mumbai's Salim Alwar, who was at the protest, Gaza may be many miles away, but today, "countries and causes are much closer than we think. We cannot take recourse to the excuse 'what can we do?' We have to register a protest. This demonstration is to send a message to Palestine that India is with you."
M A Khalid retorted when told that Israel says several Hamas terrorists were among those killed on Monday. "How does Israel pick out terrorists amidst so many people? On television, we are seeing children holding Palestine flags become targets."

Firoze Mithiborwala, organiser, arrived at the scene, handing out banners and posters. When told of Israel's claim that there were terrorists among the protesters at Gaza, Mithiborwala asked, "Then why is the USA preventing the UN Security Council from investigating the killings?" He laughed at the use of the term 'clashes' to describe events in Gaza. "Clashes can't be one-sided. Israelis are unscathed. This is genocide of Palestinians."

Mithiborwala added, "India is part of 120 countries protesting Israeli action. Trump has buried the peace deal. There are no more honest brokers in the deal, even the pretence of that is dead."

Double game
Afroze Malik of the non-profit Jai Ho Foundation said, "India is playing a double game. It voted against USA and pro-Palestine at the UN, rejecting the US embassy move to Jerusalem. This was also an anti-Israel stand. On the other hand though, India is aligning economic policy with Israel. At least 50 per cent of Israeli arms are being bought by India."

Communist ally
The Communist Party of India Marxist cadres were present, too. "Trump's move is a provocation," said former Wilson College mathematics professor K K Theckedath of the Communist party, who was among the protesters. "Trump has been creating tension in the region. He has attacked Syria and moved out of the Iran nuclear deal. He has to keep the pot boiling. He is interested in the oil fields in the region, and has been going back on his promises and thrown caution to the wind. Why should North Korea enter into an agreement with Trump? All this is part of imperialist aggression."

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