Amid the often violent anti-Israel protests currently being staged across Europe, some 5,000 people turned out in London on Sunday, most members of the Jewish community and Israelis who live in the city, for a rally in support of Israel and the military operation in Gaza, and to protest rocket fire at Israeli communities.
The crowd waved Israeli flags and sang Israeli songs as varied as "Hallelujah","Abanibi" and "Am Yisrael Chai".
"We prefer peace," said one of the organizers of the support rally, and the audience responded with applause.
Rafi, an Israeli living in London for 20 years, told Ynet how impressed he was at the civilized nature of the demonstration, as opposed to the violent protests held by pro-Palestinians in recent days in the British capital and other cities in Europe.
"This is a peaceful demonstration - understated, but powerful. It is precisely the calm, the order and the number of people show that Israel does not want war, do not want to chaos," said Rafi.
Some protesters waved signs reading "Make love, not war" and "Yes to hummus, no to Hamas".
At three pm local time, a siren sounded on Kensington High Street, so show passers-by how it feels for Israelis within range of Hamas' rocket. Some car drivers honked in solidarity, and the crowd replied with shouts of encouragement and appreciative applause.
Support for Israel (Photo: Reuters)
Yafit, another Israeli living in London and who will soon return to home with her family, also turned out to show support for Israel.
"My heart is in Israel, with all that is happening. Coming here was very natural for me. As an Israeli, and part of the nation, this is where I should be."
Israel flags and banners (Photo: Reuters)
Another Israeli, Eran, will soon be returning home from London.
"World opinion is part of the story, and the ability to present the Israeli side in a correct and authentic way is very important," he said. "There is no rational argument to be against Israel, unless if you're an anti-Semite."
Regarding the IDF operation in Gaza, Eran said: "Israel is now fighting the war in Gaza for the whole of the West, not just for its own sake, and the West needs to understand that."
Pro-Palestinian protester detained by London police during Israel rally (Photo: AFP)
Support rallies for Israel were also held Sunday in various parts of the United States.
Thousands turned out in Manhattan, with many waved Israeli flags and signs supporting the Golani Brigade, which earlier in the day suffered the loss of 13 of its soldiers. Among them was a Palestinian, wrapped in an Israeli flag, blowing a shofar and carrying a sign reading, "I am a Palestinian Christian who loves Israel".
Sharon Karpas was one of many Israelis who attended the support rally in Times Square.
"There were many Americans with us, young and old, from all across the political spectrum," she said. "Tourists came and filmed us. We sang all the time, but the one who got all the attention was the Palestinian boy who got up on stage and was interviewed in all the media."
Meanwhile, pro-Palestinians also held rallies on Sunday, with thousands gathering in both Los Angeles and Chicago for the "Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine".
In Chicago, protesters marched to the Israeli Consulate, and in San Francisco pro-Palestinian activists demonstrated opposite a support rally for Israel.
"Hundreds of homes were destroyed, thousands were displaced," said Hatem Abudayyeh, a Palestinian-American organizer of the protest in Chicago. "This is not a war against Palestine, this is a war in Palestine."