Palestine protests across Britain as anger at Israel grows

Sunday 07 April 2024 by https://socialistworker.co.uk/

Plus: Boris Johnson calls on Britain to keep arms flowing to Israel, Hamas sets out ceasefire conditions

people hold a banner reading ceasefire now on a Palestine protest in Harlow

On the Palestine protest in Harlow

Over 40 protests for Palestine on Saturday and Sunday showed the continuing readiness to mobilise against the Israeli assaults and Western support for the killing.

In many areas, people reacted with anger and horror to the murder of aid workers this week but asked why Rishi Sunak and Joe Biden had not shown similar concern over the murder of 33,000 Palestinians.  

And on every protest, campaigners raised demands for Britain to stop arming and funding Israel.

Speaking from a protest in north London, campaigner Ali told Socialist Worker, “I now see the US telling Israel to change course and kill fewer people. I think it’s too little too late and anyway, the arms keep flowing from the US to Israel. 

“But the fact that Israel then does let in more aid shows that Biden could have done this at any time. Also I don’t think we would have got any of this talk from the US and Britain without a movement on the streets for six months.”

In most areas the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) called the protests, backed by other groups.

Around 700 people marched through Manchester under the slogan, “Rise up with Palestinian women.” 

They heard speeches from Palestinian women before marching around the city, stopping at Barclays Bank. Demonstrations have been held every Saturday in Manchester with a different focus each week. 

Sue reports, “There are now several hundred ‘veterans’ who have attended most of the marches, but anger at the bombing of hospitals and aid workers is encouraging new people to join too. 

“The marches are loud and angry and well received by the public, although on this occasion a tiny group of Zionists attempted unsuccessfully to provoke the marchers. It is unfortunate that trade unions are not consistently represented on the protests, and were largely absent this week.”

Over 300 people demonstrated for Palestine in Cardiff. Following a rally outside the central library, a march went through the city with stops at Barclays and McDonald’s, reports Rob. 

There were around 350 out for Palestine in  Edinburgh, 200 in Nottingham and 200 in Dundee.

Up to 200 people in Hackney, east London, marched through Dalston high street and blockaded a Pret A Manger store, sitting down outside it. Pret has announced a major new store expansion in apartheid Israel.

Protesters chanted, “Your profits are covered in Palestinian blood.” One campaigner said, “When I go to Palestine I have to go as a British tourist because I’m displaced, because I don’t have the right to return.

“We talk about a colonialist Zionist entity and that’s right. It’s important to call things by their names.”

Alastair, a member of the Green Party, referring to Israel’s recent slaughter of aid workers, said, “It shouldn’t take Western aid workers to die for the West to take notice.”

Alistair added, “We’ve got to dismantle the military-industrial complex and our broken system.”

About 70 people in Harlow, Essex, joined a rally, demonstration and banner drop. Around 20 people in Coventry took part in a PSC picket of Barclays Bank.

North Hertfordshire PSC tweeted about a protest in Hertford, “Wonderful to see so many passers-by joining us or showing their support. It’s so clear there’s been a sea change in people’s awareness and attitude.”

people hold a banner on the Palestine protest in Manchester

A clear message on the march in Manchester

What began as a PSC campaign stall in Brighton ended with a well-supported impromptu march.

Some 40 people took part in a protest in Chesterfield, there were 50 in Hull and in Dumfries in the Scottish Borders PSC supporters gathered outside the local BBC office to protest against the screening of the Eurovision Song Contest that includes the participation of Israel.

On Sunday the Scottish Stop The War Coalition held a national assembly in Glasgow.

Next Saturday’s regional demonstrations are a chance to bring the anger of the movement onto the streets in big numbers again.   

After the destruction of al-Shifa hospital, the growing famine in Gaza and the murder by Israel of Iranian officials in Syria we need large protests on the streets, more direct action and more disruption.

Calendar

  • Next Saturday, 13 April, Stop the War, PSC, Friends of Al-Aqsa and others have called some regional mobilisations on the theme of Stop Arming Israel. In London, the march assembles at 12 noon and goes to Parliament Square. Go to Stop The War for London details
  • Thu 18 April, 6.30pm: Palestine and the Unions: the Next Steps for the Movement, Zoom meeting called by Stop the Wra. For link email office@stopwar.org.uk
  • Wed 24 April: PSC lobby of parliament
  • Wed 1 May: Workplace day of action.
Johnson—keep arming Israel

Not everyone is even pretending to demand a change from Israel. Former Tory prime minister Boris Johnson has said it is “shameful” to call for Britain to end arms sales to Israel.

Writing in his Daily Mail newspaper column, Johnson said it would be “insane” for Britain to end military support. He said it would be “willing the military defeat of Israel and the victory of Hamas”.

Johnson fears the Palestinian resistance is going to win. He wrote, “Remember that to win this conflict, Hamas only has to survive. All they need at the end is to hang on, rebuild, and go again. That’s a victory for Hamas.”


Hamas sets out ceasefire conditions

A senior Hamas source told Al Jazeera newspaper that the group was sending a delegation to Cairo on Sunday after an Egyptian invitation for ceasefire talks.

Hamas has also released a statement saying it will adhere to “the position it presented on 14 March and insisted it would not “back down”.

“The demands are complete ceasefire, withdrawal of the occupation forces from Gaza, the return of the displaced to their residential areas, freedom of movement of the people, offering them aid and shelter, and a serious hostage exchange deal,” it said.