Biden says Israeli occupation of Gaza would be ‘big mistake’


NEW DELHI: Police in New Delhi detained scores of protesters on Monday as authorities dispersed a group of activists who tried to hold a citizens’ vigil in support of Palestine. 

Thousands of ordinary Palestinians have been killed every day since Oct. 7, when Tel Aviv launched heavy airstrikes on the Gaza Strip following an attack on Israel by the Gaza-based militant group Hamas. 

More than a week into the Israeli offensive, the death toll in Gaza reached 2,750 on Monday while the number of those injured stood at 9,700, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health, as thousands of Israeli bombs have hit residential buildings, hospitals and places of worship. 

After a series of protests held in support of Palestine in different parts of India this past week, activists again gathered on Monday at the Jantar Mantar protest site in New Delhi to show solidarity with Palestinians. 

But Monday’s demonstration was met with force, with Delhi police detaining more than 100 people, All India Students’ Association said. 

Prasenjeet Kumar, national secretary-general of AISA, which organized the protest on Monday, said that participants had come with an appeal for peace. 

“We have come to say that the way Palestinians are being attacked by Israel and how this aggression is being supported by the US — India should speak against that,” Kumar told Arab News. 

“We gave the call for the citizens’ vigil and people were gathering for that … Delhi police denied our protest and they came down heavily on us and forcefully put us in a bus and took (some of) us to an undisclosed location.” 

New Delhi police did not immediately respond to Arab News’ request for comment. 

There were several nongovernmental organizations represented at the New Delhi demonstration, ranging from student associations and trade unions to women’s organizations. It came shortly after India’s largest civil society organizations held a protest over the weekend, demanding that the government take a firm stand against the latest Israeli onslaught on civilians in Gaza. 

Sucheta De, national secretary of All India Central Council of Trade Unions, was among those taken by the police on Monday. Before she was detained, she spoke about the link between the history of India’s struggle for independence and that of Palestine. 

“India’s traditional position for Palestine is intrinsically related to the very definition of the Indian nation … India will always stand for Palestine, and we condemn the Indian government’s attempt to silence every voice that speaks for Palestine,” De said. 

Shweta Raj, national secretary for All India Progressive Women’s Association, told Arab News that organizers had spoken to the police prior to the demonstration. 

“We talked to the police. We already sent a letter earlier (saying) that we are going to protest at Jantar Mantar. But suddenly they said in the morning that they are canceling the protest,” Raj said.   

Organizers decided to carry on with the protest because they had already issued a call for the public to join, she added.

“This was a citizens’ vigil. The protest was in favor of Palestine … We protested, and the police came and just detained everybody. This is what happened,” Raj said. “They just put us in a bus like baggage.”

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