Chile's Palestinian community, largest outside Mideast, protests airstrikes

·2-min read

Chile's Palestinian community -- the largest outside the Middle East with more than 300,000 people -- protested Tuesday in Santiago against the bloodshed caused by Israeli airstrikes.

More than a thousand people met at the Club Palestino football headquarters in eastern Santiago to demonstrate against Israel's near-relentless bombing campaign, with Hamas having launched nearly 3,500 rockets at Israel since the crisis began on May 10.

"We are the biggest Palestinian community outside of the Middle East and we are adding to the demonstrations that have taken place around the world... and also to support the hundreds of Palestinian civilian victims who have died in these Israeli attacks and bombings," said Maurice Kahmis, president of the Palestinian Community of Chile.

Since the latest round of violence between Israel and Islamist militants Hamas began, 217 Palestinians -- including dozens of children -- have been killed in the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian authorities.

Israel has said that 12 people have died in rocket fire from Gaza, including a young boy.

The protesters in Chile began their demonstration outside Club Palestino with dancing, waving of Palestinian flags and signs that read "Justice does not exist with occupation" and "No more genocide."

They then piled into 700 cars, organizers estimated, causing a traffic jam at least three kilometers (two miles) long.

"We are sad that our families are dying, my grandparents, my cousins, my aunts and uncles are dying under Israeli occupation," 18-year-old Catalina Garib told AFP.

"I came here today to support all Palestinians who are suffering, there are a lot of children who are dying," designer Pamela Jarabran said. "We want those who are far from us to know that they are not alone."

Chile recognized Palestine as a state in 2011, supporting its entrance to UNESCO. The country's large Palestinian diaspora lives alongside an also influential Jewish community of about 30,000 members.

Palestinians began immigrating to Chile in large numbers during the 20th century, when the area was still part of the Ottoman Empire. The community is especially involved in Chile's textiles industry as well as in the South American country's politics.

Chile's Club Palestino was founded by Arab immigrants in 1920. The team's matches are watched by thousands of fans in the Palestinian territories.


Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting