End The Siege on Gaza!
On Saturday the 24th November, I attended a demo with other people of all ages, races and origins who had turned out in their thousands in London to stand in solidarity with Palestine. The march, which began outside Downing Street at mid-day, came to an end a few miles later outside the Israeli Embassy. A rally then ensued with speakers such as Ahdaf Soueif, the Egyptian novelist and political commentator, Andy Slaughter, the British Labour Party politician and Ambassador Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian territory diplomat.
The protest, which was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign but also supported by many affiliate groups, called for an end to the siege in Gaza and for the freedom of the Palestinian people. Organisers claim at least 15,000 people turned up to show their support and to tell the British Government that the time to stop supporting terrorism is now.
The most recent spate of violence between Israel and Gaza lasted eight days and resulted in the loss of 160 Palestinians, at least 40 of which were children. A further 1,200 people were injured. Although a ceasefire was agreed upon after intervention from the UK, the US and the Egyptian authorities, the siege and political control over the Palestinians by the Israelis still exists.
Throughout the day and despite the poor weather conditions, we stayed on the streets chanting, “Free Free Palestine” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. Placards carried by the majority depicted Israel as a terrorist state and showed unwavering support for the Palestinians with slogans such as “Stop Israel State Terrorism” and We Will Not Forget You Gaza”.
The occupation and siege of Gaza has been ongoing for more than six decades now at the cost of countless lives. Many protesters expressed their anger towards the British government in their handling of the conflict, especially the media portrayal of events. The attacks were heavily reported in the press although it seemed as though the media was trying to insinuate that the Israeli attack on Gaza was on of self defence and not all and out terrorism.
The Stop the War Coalition, who helped organise the event said they wanted to let everyone know that the British government gave “the green light” to Israel’s crimes and that they do not have the popular support of the general public. They stated that the next step in the fight for Palestinian freedom would be a boycott of all Israeli goods.