World, Middle East

Hundreds in Switzerland call for ban on Israel in 2024 Olympic Games

Protesters in Lausanne leave red hand marks on doors of International Olympic Committee building, calling attention to civilian suffering in Gaza

Beyza Binnur Donmez  | 12.06.2024 - Update : 13.06.2024
Hundreds in Switzerland call for ban on Israel in 2024 Olympic Games

LAUSANNE, Switzerland

Hundreds of protesters in Switzerland demanded Wednesday that Israel be barred from competing at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris amid the ongoing "genocide" in Gaza.

Demonstrators gathered in front of the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne with their hands painted red to draw attention to the civilian casualties in Palestinian territory, leaving red handprints on the building's entrance in an effort to convince the committee to take action against Israel.

Pointing out that the committee "only took a few days" to exclude Russia and Belarus from the 2022 Olympics over the war in Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, 2022, the protesters held up a banner saying: "Let's ban the genocidal Israeli state from the Olympic Games."

Athletes from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to compete in this year's Olympics as neutrals, according to the committee. But they will not be allowed to take part in the opening ceremony and will use no flags, emblems or anthems, with no officials from either country's government invited to the games taking place on July 26 to Aug. 11.

They called Israel a "criminal state" with the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor seeking arrest warrants for top Israeli leaders.

Israel "mocks the decisions of the International Criminal Court as well as the International Court of Justice," said a brochure published by the protesters, who called for sanctions to be imposed on the country.

They also called on French President Emmanuel Macron to cut diplomatic ties with Israel and arms supplies, impose cultural and academic boycotts on the country, and end an agreement allowing French nationals to serve in the Israeli army. Some 4,000 French citizens are currently participating in the Israeli military's offensive on Gaza.

The protesters chanted slogans against Israel's "genocide," holding up Palestinian flags and banners reading "Boycott Israel, boycott genocide," "Humanity has failed" and "Free Palestine."

- Israel has 'no place' in Olympic Games

One of the protesters, Camiel, who came from Lyon, told Anadolu that a country capable of "doing genocide" cannot participate in the Olympic Games, which are supposed to bring people together.

"When it comes to Russia, it kicked them out easily," he said. "Because it touches the Europeans. People are a lot more sensitive when they see a European getting killed then when they see an Arab getting killed."

He said the goal of this protest was to show that people "are not blind and willing to talk."

Guillaume, from Lausanne, told Anadolu that he was attending the protest to join in the demand to ban Israel from the Olympic Games, "which is something that has been done for other countries when they commit such war crimes."

"This is why I think it's appropriate to be here while there’s a genocide, or at least an ethnic cleansing, in Gaza and in all of Palestine," he said.

He also criticized the Olympic committee for closing its doors rather than sending someone to discuss the issue with the protestors.

A university student who wished to remain anonymous told Anadolu: "Today, we are here to say that we do not agree with Israel coming to the Paris Olympic Games, because it is a genocidal state."

"This is the first time that there is a genocide which is broadcast so visibly, which is filmed by the very victims of this genocide. It is impossible that when we have this before our eyes, we allow ourselves to accept the presence of Israel," she said.

She warned that Israel's participation in the games would mean allowing them to "get away with" their actions as "criminals."

"If Russia was condemned so easily, it is not clear why Israel is not. We don't understand why there are two different ways of treating this (situation)," she added.

The peaceful protest lasted just over two hours and ended without police intervention.

Israel has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since an Oct. 7, 2023 attack by the Palestinian group Hamas, despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire.

More than 37,200 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, most of them women and children, and more than 84,900 others injured, according to local health authorities.

Eight months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, whose latest ruling ordered it to immediately halt its operation in the southern city of Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on May 6.

Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.
Related topics
Bu haberi paylaşın