TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Around 400 people marched in support of Palestine in Taipei on Saturday (Nov. 26) as tens of thousands turned out in cities across the globe to call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, and in support of a "free Palestine."
Protestors marched around Taipei's Daan Park and called on Taiwan’s government to declare support for a permanent and immediate ceasefire. Taiwan joined most of the Western world in supporting Israel after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, and on Saturday released a statement saying it supported the temporary ceasefire and return of hostages.
Protestors highlighted the government’s “Taiwan can help” slogan, which was widely used during the pandemic, and said the country was not doing all it could to right the situation in Palestine. “We hope that Taiwanese society will no longer be silent on issues of peace and justice in the international community,” organizing group “forpeacetw” (可以自由巴) said in a statement.
“As Taiwan is about to hold a general election, we urge whoever is elected to take the correct stance on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, demand a ceasefire through diplomacy, and not be cowardly in the international community,” the statement read.
Protestors called on Taiwan to help Palestine on Saturday. (Taiwan News, Jono Thomson photo)
Many of those who joined the protests were foreign residents of Taiwan. Speakers at the event noted that they were disappointed the issue was not getting more attention in the Taiwanese media, and lamented what they said was a poor understanding of the issue among the general public.
Taiwan News spoke to more than a dozen pedestrians who stopped to observe the protest. All but one had a general understanding of the issue that protesters were highlighting, but none knew if the Taiwan government had taken a stance on the issue.
The Israel-Hamas war has now killed over 14,000 people in the Gaza Strip, 74% of whom are women and children, according to U.N. agency estimates. The Saturday protest took place amid a four-day ceasefire that saw both sides return prisoners.
“Despite a truce taking place in Gaza now, the criminal Israel government will resume its aggressive and indiscriminate airstrikes once it ends,” Palestinian scholar Hazem Almassry told protestors. “The situation remains dangerous, and genocide continues,” he said.
An onlooker livestreams as protestors march by. (Taiwan News, Jono Thomson photo)
The most recent conflict began after Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 and capturing about 240 others. Israel’s response has plunged the Palestinian territory of Gaza into a humanitarian crisis, and on Nov. 25, a four-day ceasefire was put in place.
Israel freed 39 Palestinians during the ceasefire, and Hamas freed 13 Israelis with 11 other foreign nationals, per the AP. The pause has also allowed much-needed supplies, such as water, fuel, and medicine, into Gaza.
Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu said the war will continue after the ceasefire ends.
Two counter-protestors who said they were from Israel attempted to chant over the protestors at one point. They were led away by some of the many police officers present.
Organizers of the protest discouraged provocation and asked participants to maintain order.
Police move counter-protestors away from the march. (Taiwan News, Jono Thomson photo)
One man who appeared to have happened upon the protest beckoned protestors for a confrontation but was again moved on by police as protestors were moved on by the organizers.
Speaking to Taiwan News, a police officer in charge said he was not able to say how many police were present. He said the police presence was mainly to maintain pedestrian access around the park where the protestors gathered.
The protest followed a previous demonstration held outside the U.S.’s representative office in Taiwan on Nov. 18, which took aim at U.S. support for Israel and likewise called for a ceasefire. Organizers said calls for peace are expanding in Taiwan, and Saturday’s march saw a significantly higher turnout than both the Nov. 18 protest, and another held outside Israel’s representative office on Tuesday.
A passerby takes a photo of the protest. (Taiwan News, Jono Thomson photo)