RABAT, Dec 11 — Several thousand Moroccans demonstrated yesterday in Rabat to condemn “genocide” in the Gaza Strip and demand the end of diplomatic relations with Israel, AFP journalists reported.

They marched through the city behind a huge banner denouncing “the Holocaust in Gaza” and calling for ties with Israel to be repealed.

Morocco and Israel established full relations in 2020 in exchange for the United States recognising Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

On Sunday, demonstrators waving Palestinian flags and wearing keffiyeh scarves marched against “war crimes and genocide” in Gaza, and calling for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

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The demonstration was organised by the “National Action Group for Palestine”, a coalition of leftist parties and Islamists.

Protester Saoussane, 41, said she was there “to express support for the Palestinian people, and for the children they are killing who have nothing to do with Hamas”.

“How can we talk about collateral damage with 17,000 dead?” she asked. “It is genocide — it is not even a war any more.”

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According the Hamas health ministry in Gaza, 17,997 people have been killed by Israel’s relentless air strikes and ground invasion, mostly women and children.

In retaliation for Hamas’s unprecedented attack on October 7 in the south of Israel, which killed around 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and in which they took 240 hostages, Israel’s military launched a campaign to “annihilate” Hamas.

Since the war began, huge demonstrations across Morocco have called for an end to the North African country’s diplomatic normalisation with Israel, whereas before October 7 opposition to normalisation was limited.

“Gaza, under siege for 17 years, is experiencing the worst genocide with the blessing of the United Nations which is unable to take firm decisions to stop it, with the participation of the United States and Western countries”, said another demonstrator, Halima Chouika.

At the end of November, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI condemned Israel’s “flagrant violation of international law and humanitarian values” in its reprisals against Hamas.

He said he rejected Israel’s “policy of collective punishment, forced displacement and any attempt to impose new facts on the ground”, in a message addressed to the United Nations. — AFP