By Nikolaos Prakas and Iole Damaskinos

Over a thousand people gathered in Nicosia on Sunday to march in support of a ceasefire in Gaza, as Israeli bombing continued.

People gathered in the capital’s Eleftheria Square, where protesters held signs reading: “Hydrocarbons and blood,” referring to the agreement between Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and the US on energy exploitation.

Others carried signs showing 6,000+ referring to the number of children dead since the Israeli offensive began, while a woman was also spotted holding a sign reading: “I did not know Palestinian human rights came with terms and conditions.”

Before starting the march, a speaker at the protest sent a message to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying: “With your intransigence, you are turning the people against you.

“From the river to the sea Palestine will be free.”

During his speech the head of the Cyprus Peace Council Haris Pashas said that the Cypriot people, “condemned” by their existence to fight against the conquerors, “know that the fight against imperialism and to defend peace, freedom and of justice is common to all the peoples on earth”.

He said that with today’s Pan-Cypriot Peace March they are sending a “strong message in all directions” that the Palestinian people are not alone. “We will not stop taking to the streets until there is a full ceasefire and an end to the war.”

Pashas said that Cyprus “is one of the few countries in the world, perhaps the only one that has not said a word about Israel’s atrocities in Gaza” and wondered how the government of a country that is a victim of occupation, can tolerate the presence of foreign aircraft carriers, submarines and frigates in its seas, American and other warships in its ports, and allow the presence of hundreds of commandos from other countries on its soil.

He said they demand “an end to any involvement of Cyprus in military offensive operations against friendly neighbouring peoples” and for Cyprus to express its practical solidarity with the Palestinian people.

In closing, Pashas said that the children of Palestine and Israel deserve better days in a regime of peace, security and stability.

The Ambassador of Palestine in Cyprus, Abdullah Attari, in his own greeting, thanked everyone on behalf of the Palestinian people for their presence and participation “in this great gathering of support”.

“Fortunately,” he noted, “the gap between people and governments around the world is widening” as the world reacts, he said. “Only the people can stop the Israeli plans to displace the Palestinians from their homeland for a second, maybe a third time,” the Ambassador said, adding, “we want you with us at these critical times for our homeland and our people”.

After gathering in the square, people began to march and chant: “Niko, Niko, [Christodoulides] you can’t hide you’re supporting genocide.”

Chants of “Israel! USA! How many kids did you kill today?” were also heard.

One protester told the Cyprus Mail: “I am here for humanity, if you look at all the wars…the world is going in a dark, dark direction. We are all human, we’re supposed to be humans, and I stand against genocide and inhumanity in every shape and form.”

A Turkish Cypriot protester also spoke to the Cyprus Mail and said: “We are here to show our solidarity to the Palestinian people and increase the Palestinian voice from Cyprus. As Turkish Cypriots, we are here to show solidarity will win over brutality.”

Before protesters started marching, a small silent protest was held in the square, where two women dressed as wounded and blinded peace and justice marched in front of women carrying swaddled dolls, representing dead infants, in their arms.

The Cyprus Peace Council and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) organised the protest on Sunday.

In their announcement, the NGOs called on all people from all strata of society to participate in the demonstration starting at Eleftherias Square in Nicosia.

The organisers, totalling 38 Greek and Turkish Cypriot organisations, are demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the provision of humanitarian aid, an end to the genocide of the Palestinian people, practical solidarity of the Republic of Cyprus with the Palestinians, the implementation of international law and the resolutions of the United Nations, and peace and justice in Cyprus and throughout.

As protesters dispersed following the march, a nearby cotton candy-maker told the Cyprus Mail: “I don’t see the point of this protest because there’s nothing the common person can do. Whoever has the might makes the rules.”