Saturday, 9 August 2014

London sees biggest ever protest in support of Palestinians, 200,000 march in South Africa

More than 150,000 people marched through London today, Saturday, in Britain’s biggest protest ever against Israel’s oppression of Gaza. They came on coaches, trains and minibuses from round the country. The march gathered outside the BBC, angry at the appalling coverage of Israel’s massacre of nearly 2,000 Palestinians.

It finished with a mass rally in Hyde Park. The march took an hour and three quarters to arrive. The park was a sea of Palestinian flags.

More than 3,000 also protested in Edinburgh. They marched to Bute House, the first minister’s residence. For two hours they held a sit-down protest blocking the city’s main shopping street, Princes Street.

Today has been called a Day of Rage for Gaza across the world. Up to 200,000 also marched in Cape Town, South Africa, drawing parallels between Israel and the apartheid regime. Demonstrators also marched in Delhi.

Safia Hibah from Isleworth, west London, was on the London march. She told Socialist Worker, “The story the news is telling us is different to the reality of little kids being bombed. Is the government blind to what is going on? Why do they keep arming Israel?”

There were banners from Palestine Solidarity groups and Stop the War groups. Trade union banners and flags mixed with football fans waving “Gooners” and Everton banners. Demonstrators ranged from elderly marchers leaning on sticks to children whose faces were painted with the colours of the Palestinian flag.

Ferrial Abu-rabi is half-Palestinian. She told Socialist Worker, “I’ve been going on Palestine demos for many years. But the quantity and the diversity of people make this completely different. People who didn’t even know Palestine existed are speaking out.”

Some placards simply stated the name and age of a child killed by the Israeli bombardment. Many protesters raised support for the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to isolate Israel internationally.

Philipa Harvey from the National Union of Teachers spoke to the crowd as the march assembled outside the BBC. She promised the union will “stand with the people of Palestine. Schools in Gaza must become safe places again.”

Other speakers brought solidarity from unions including Unite, Unison and Aslef.

Daud Abdullah from the British Muslim Initiative said, “The resistance is alive, it’s healthy and it’s stronger than ever. more

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