Thousands of trade unionists, civil society representatives, political activists, lawyers and high school students demonstrated in the centre of Tunis on Thursday in support of the Palestinian people and called for the criminalisation of any normalisation of relations with Israel.
Denouncing the Israeli strikes against the Gaza Strip, the demonstrators, brandishing the Palestinian flag, gathered in front of the headquarters of the trade union centre, the UGTT, before marching to Avenue Habib Bourguiba, the main thoroughfare in the city centre, AFP journalists observed.
“The people want to penalise normalisation” with Israel, chanted the demonstrators, angry at “Zionist crimes” and “international silence on the genocide in Gaza”, the Palestinian enclave.
The demonstrators also denounced the support of France and the United States for Israel, which had become “allies in the attack on the Palestinians”.
Since Saturday, Israel has been carrying out strikes against the Gaza Strip in response to an unprecedented air, land and sea assault launched by Hamas fighters.
The offensive launched by the Palestinian Islamist movement resulted in the deaths of at least 1,200 Israelis and foreigners, while the Israeli response in the Palestinian enclave killed more than 1,300 people, mostly civilians, and caused widespread destruction.
Tunisia is preparing a health and humanitarian aid caravan for the Palestinians in Gaza.
The North African country, which hosted Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) from 1982 to 1994 after he left Lebanon, has always taken a firm stance in support of the Palestinian cause.
On Monday, President Kais Saied called for “support for our brothers in this stage (…) of Palestinian liberation”, when he received members of the government.
On Tuesday, at the initiative of the Ministry of Education, pupils saluted the Palestinian flag.
In his speeches, President Saied has repeatedly described normalisation with Israel as a “crime”, and a parliamentary committee will shortly be examining a bill to penalise such a process.
In October 1985, the Israeli air force carried out a massive bombing of the PLO headquarters at Hammam Chatt, 25 km south of Tunis, killing 50 Palestinians and 18 Tunisians.
Among the victims was the main target of the operation, Abu Jihad, an official of Assifa, the military wing of Fatah.