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Pro-Palestinian demo seeks end to Chile's ties with Israel


Thousands marched in Chile's capital Saturday against Israel's operation in Gaza, urging President Michelle Bachelet to break off diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

"Break it off, Break it off, Break off ties with Israel!" chanted demonstrators who marched to the presidential palace, many waving banners or decked out in the Palestinians' traditional keffiyeh scarf.

There are about 300,000 Arabs in Chile -- a country of 17 million -- including a large Palestinian community.

"We are asking President Michelle Bachelet to expel Israel's ambassador, and to end ties with Israel. We want the world to know Chileans have stood against this Israeli massacre," said Mauricio Abu-Gosh, head of the Palestinian Association of Chile.

The protest came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Jewish state would keep up its military campaign against Hamas in Gaza for as long and as forcefully as needed, in a conflict that has already cost more than 1,700 Palestinian and 65 Israeli lives in less than a month.

Chile already has recalled its ambassador to Israel over the violence, as have Argentina, El Salvador and Peru. All have significant Arab populations, most of them of Palestinian origin.