Gaza war: Thousands attend pro-Palestine march in London, call for end to occupation

Gaza war: Thousands attend pro-Palestine march in London, call for end to occupation
The demonstration next to the Embassy of Israel in Kensington, west London, called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and apartheid rule as Israel stepped up its brutal bombardment of Gaza, killing hundreds
4 min read
10 October, 2023
The protest was organised by a coalition of UK activist groups, shortly after the events broke out over the weekend.

Over 5,000 people gathered on the streets of London to protest against Israeli apartheid and express support for Palestinians yesterday evening as Israel stepped up its bombardment of Gaza in the wake of Hamas' unprecedented incursion out of the besieged strip.

The demonstration next to the Embassy of Israel in Kensington, west London, called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and apartheid rule and came days after Israel declared war on Gaza following Hamas’ unprecedented large-scale attack on Israel.

It was organised by a coalition of UK activist groups including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Palestine Forum in Britain and Friends of Al-Aqsa.

Naturei Karta Activists
Activists were joined by Neturei Karta members, some of whom openly share their Pro-Palestine stances.

Thousands of men, women and children packed onto the busy shopping street to protest, wearing keffiyehs, waving Palestinian flags and carrying banners stating ‘End Israeli State Terror’ and ‘Sanctions on Israel’.

Fireworks and flares were set off in the street and the crowd chanted “Free Palestine” and “Israel is a terrorist state”.

The Metropolitan Police was in attendance and later in the evening intervened to quell crowds of Israeli and Palestinian demonstrators at High Street Kensington Underground station.

Jewish groups opposed to Zionism also came to show solidarity with Palestine, including rabbis from Neturei Karta, an international ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist group who call for the peaceful dismantling of the modern state of Israel.

One of those demonstrating was 43-year-old Ziad al-Mohammad, a gas engineer who came to the UK 20 years ago as a Palestinian refugee from Lebanon.

“All my family, my parents and my grandparents fled the country in 1948. I was born in Lebanon as a refugee,” he told The New Arab.

“Our heart is still with Palestine. At least we are citizens here but we love our land; we need to go back.”

Al-Mohammad said his family are from the village of Safed in present day northern Israel. “Our land was taken from my parents and grandparents,” he said.

Many protestors The New Arab spoke to criticised the British government’s lack of condemnation for Israel’s attacks on Gaza which has caused at least 560 Palestinian deaths.

On Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ordered all government buildings to project an image of the Israeli flag as a show of support. Over 800 Israelis have been killed in the fighting by Hamas militants.

Palestinian activists call for sanctions on Israel
Pro-Palestinian activists call an end to the 16-year long occupation of Gaza

A 60-year-old woman from Essex at the demonstration, who declined to be named, said she has supported the Palestinian cause for 15 years.

“The Palestinian people have had enough, they have lived in an open prison in Gaza,” she told The New Arab. “It’s just absolutely despicable that this whole Israeli regime is being supported by the West.”

Last year, Amnesty International published a major report documenting what it deemed Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians. It cites “a system of oppression and domination over Palestinians”, including segregation, dispossession of land and property and the denial of economic and social rights.

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The UK-based human rights organisation has urged the international community to investigate Israeli state crimes.

Israel rejected the report saying it “consolidates and recycles lies” and accused Amnesty of using “double standards and demonization in order to delegitimize Israel”.

Atiquea, 36, who came down from Buckinghamshire to the demonstration with her cousin Nazia said that Israel needs to be held accountable for civilian deaths.

Another protests will take place later in October
Another protest will take place later in October 2023, mainly to protest the 'minimising' of the Palestinian experience in the ongoing Hamas-Israel war

“We feel that the Palestinians have been oppressed and traumatised for so long that enough is enough,” she told The New Arab, adding that she was concerned over Sunak’s recent pledge to support Israel with military and security infrastructure if requested.

She said: “We don’t have a personal connection to Palestine, but we are humans and we can see the suffering they are going through.

“They are so dehumanised and they’re suffering is really minimised.”

A second march for Palestine is due to take place on Saturday 14 October outside the BBC headquarters in London.