New Year Galas Cancelled for Gaza

With millions across the Arab world pouring into the streets to condemn the Israeli onslaught, several Arab countries have cancelled pre-planned New Year celebrations.

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum has cancelled all New Year concerts in the Gulf tourism hub.

He announced the decision as "a sign of solidarity with the brotherly Palestinian people and because of the death and destruction perpetrated in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli war machine."

Israel conducted on Wednesday, December 31, nearly 60 air strikes on targets in the heavily-populated Gaza Strip.

Five days of Israeli bombardment killed at least 393 people, including 42 children, and wounded more than 1,900.

At least 25 percent of those killed have been civilians, according to the United Nations.

The intensive bombardment has reduced dozens of buildings to rubble, overwhelmed hospitals with wounded and filled Gaza’s deserted streets with smoke and fire.

In Egypt, the ministries of culture and information have decided to cancel New Year’s festivities "in solidarity with the painful events in the Palestinian territories and the massacres which Gazans are faced with."

Jordan’s five-start hotels and restaurants also cancelled celebrations.

"The decision to cancel the celebrations has been taken in solidarity with our people in Gaza," Michel Nazzal, head of the Jordanian Hotel Association, said in a statement.

Jordanian newspapers ran ads urging citizens to join a candlelight vigil in downtown Amman in a show of support for Gaza.

"While the world is celebrating the new year, the people of Gaza are going to welcome it with bombs, fire and blood," read one ad.

"Let us affirm our solidarity with them."

Gaza Rallies

The concerts cancellations came as millions across the Arab world continued to take to the streets to denounce Israel’s massacres in Gaza.

"On Gaza we will march, martyrs by the millions, we are all Hamas," nearly 1000 distraught protesters chanted in Cairo.

In the Lebanese capital, demonstrators marched from the UN headquarters in downtown Beirut to the offices of the Arab League in the nearby Ashrafieh district.

"No to Arab silence," read one banner.

Pro-Gaza rallies were not restricted to the Arab world, but have swept across the globe.

Sporting black balloons and iconic black and white keffiyeh, hundreds of sympathizers marched on the US and Israeli embassies in The Hague.

"We want the Dutch government to speak out against Israel," said Benji de Levie, board member of the Dutch Palestine Committee.

In Bosnia, Muslims and Jewish leaders joined hands in appealing for an end to the bloodshed in Gaza.

"We call on Euro-Atlantic associations and world powers to use their authority and protect human right to life and peace," mayor Semiha Borovac, a Muslim, and Jakob Finci, the head of Bosnia’s Jewish community, said in a joint letter.

"For the sake of the future of our planet, we insist on sanctity of human life."

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