10,000 workers and youth besiege Downing Street demanding banning of all arms sales to Israel

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The 10,000-strong crowd supporting Palestine filled Whitehall outside Downing Street on Tuesday night

OVER 10,000 workers, students and youth attended a protest rally outside Downing Street on Tuesday night with banners, placards and Palestinian flags.

They demanded the immediate banning of arms sales to Israel and chanted: ‘Free, Free Palestine’, ‘Stop Arming Israel’, ‘Hands off Gaza, Hands off Rafah’, ‘No Ceasefire, No Vote’ and ‘From the River to the Sea Palestine will be Free’.

Karen Garvey, London housewife, told News Line: ‘We are all peace people, we want peace for everyone. We are being forced to take a stand. We can’t watch the massacre of women, children, men, people like medics, doctors and teachers.

‘Ordinary Arabs are out all over the Middle East and people are out all over the world. But the elites are doing nothing to stop them. We’ve seen no aggression on the marches and we’ve been on several, my family, my friends and I.

‘They’re not hate marches. Good people exist and they resist what’s going on and we are good people. We want the complete victory of the Palestinian people, a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

‘We want powerful groups like trade unions to take action. We will carry on fighting until we win. A win for Palestine is a win for workers all over the world.’

Maahir, a student from London, said: ‘I’m here because of the terrorist government of Israel which has exceeded all limits.

‘This occupation has been going on not just since October 8th but for 70 years plus. Palestinians have been treated as sub-human for way too long. I think the TUC should call a general strike. A lot of us think that.

‘I think we should take in the refugees from Palestine if they want to be taken. There must be sanctions brought on Israel immediately.’

Addressing the rally, NEU General Secretary Daniel Kabede, said: ‘Look at this crowd, look at the solidarity with the people of Gaza. I represent 500,000 teachers around the country. We don’t only care about children in our classroom, we care about the children of Palestine, the children of Gaza.

‘What about our political leaders. Keir Starmer has said the bombing of Gaza should stop but he does nothing to impact that, and even that, he has only said recently. That is not good enough.

‘We want sanctions. We want the arms sales to stop now. Donald Trump has claimed the Israeli intervention is targeted, but that’s a lie. They use 2,000lb bombs. It’s genocide, it’s got to stop. We salute the students, we salute everyone here. Free Palestine.’

Ameera Nimwar, Healthworkers for Palestine, said: ‘I am a doctor whose family are for Palestine. I’m proud to stand here today and give a message from a doctor, a friend of mine called James, who is currently in Gaza.

‘He has written me a letter in which he says aid is being actively stopped from going into Gaza by the Israelis. When they say they do not do that it is another one of their many lies.

‘He said there is a two-pronged attack. There is the bombing and the raiding and the warfare, and there is also the stopping of food aid and the lack of access to clean water and the disease that is breaking out across the Gaza Strip because of the lack of sanitation affecting whole families.

‘We call for complete political liberation of Palestinians, the recognition of their state, the right to return. We will remain, the movement will continue across the world and we will achieve a Palestinian state.

‘I would like to end by saluting particularly the students across the world for their occupations in support of Palestine.’

Faris Aman, Palestinian Forum in Britain, said: ‘I would like to thank people like you here for attending rallies, marches, protests, week in, week out for eight months.

‘At the start of this war the Israelis lied about Hamas beheading babies. Hamas did not do that. But the Israelis, what they have done, we have seen thousands of children killed.

‘Despite the right wing media, we have still all seen the pictures of Palestinian babies beheaded by Zionist forces.

‘We will not stop until everyone who played a part in the genocide is brought to justice, including Rishi Sunak the Prime Minister. He must be tried in The Hague and put in prison for aiding war crimes.

‘We will not stop, the movement will not end until we have won all our demands, including the State of Palestine, that is the biggest goal.’

Liz Wheatley, President of Unison, said: ‘I want to bring solidarity from my union to all Palestinians and their supporters.

‘Nearly 40,000 dead, mainly women and children, tens of thousands injured and suffering from diseases. Only on Sunday we saw a massacre of 50 people by the Israelis. That is a disgrace, that is a war crime.

‘The Tory politicians do not care. What they care about most is profit and money, not human lives.

‘We have been inspired by the students in the UK and all over the world with their occupations. Students led the way on Vietnam and South Africa and Iraq.

‘Forty years ago I was part of the occupation at the LSE to force divestment from South Africa. It was a victorious movement. This one will also win.

‘All the money that the Tory government spend on destruction and arms sales should be spent on health and housing and education and international aid. Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest.’

Jeremy Corbyn MP for Islington North, said: ‘Thank you for responding to the call for decency and peace. Of all the horrors we have seen over the last eight months, the bombing of people in tents is the biggest outrage.

‘We get the mealy-mouthed blatherings of western politicians about more aid for Gaza, but the Israelis bomb when aid goes in and kill people that try to get it.

‘We have seen some politicians recognise the right of a Palestinian state recently, Spain, Ireland, Norway, but not Britain.

‘In Britain, the Tories want to curtail the right to protest and for trade unions to go on strike.

‘The only good thing about a general election is July is that the anti-BDS bill was dropped because they ran out of time.

‘Western nations do not stop the arms sales to Israel. The UK, the US and Germany are the biggest offenders.

‘There have been ICC and ICJ rulings, but the Israelis just ignore them. In fact, they carry out more atrocities.

‘We want justice for the Palestinian people. Movements around the world will force the issue. The movement for Palestine will never be curtailed. It will be victorious in the end. Victory to Palestine.’

Emily Stevenson from the Jews against occupation group Na’amod, said: ‘It’s been hard to find the words to express strong enough our condemnation of what Israel has done over the last eight months. We face extreme criticism from the so-called mainstream of Judaism, but they do not represent many Jewish people.

‘How could you possibly accept the genocide and murder and torture. We are called traitors. We are not traitors, we are humans. I know that a so-called safe zone is not real. It has been the case in several wars. But I’ve never seen anything like this.

‘I have heard the constant drones in Gaza and the hospitals bombed, and the rubble, the buildings smashed and the human beings, men, women and children murdered. Only someone who supports genocide and the wiping out of a whole people could support that. I liken it to madness.

‘We do not think one group of people is superior to another, but the Israelis do. We call for the dismantling of the occupation, the dismantling of the genocide, a Palestinian state.

‘I am not an anti-Semite like some have called me. That is ridiculous. We want a free Palestine, we want it now.’

Lindsey German, Convenor of Stop the War Coalition, said: ‘This protest was only called yesterday and yet I would say at least 10,000 people are here. We have seen a whole change. The world is a very different place. The so-called leaders of the free world, like Sunak and Macron and Biden are all war-mongers, as are the right-wing leaders of the Labour Party like Starmer.

‘I’ve seen a survey which says only 8% of people in Britain support the Israeli bombing campaign.

‘We should not vote for politicians who support Israel. Where they stand we should boycott them, regardless of the political party. Someone who particularly comes to mind is David Lammy who could be the foreign secretary if there is a Labour government. And all the Labour friends of Israel.

‘I call for people to vote for Palestine in the general election. Do not be deterred, keep up the movement, I know it will keep up, it’s across the whole of society. We must kick the Tories out, that sell arms to Israel, but not replace them with other pro-Zionists.

‘One of Prime Minister Sunak’s policies is to have conscription and to force 18 year olds to join the army. They don’t represent us. People like the students occupying represent us. We draw great strength from their youth and vitality. We must elect politicians that stop arming Israel, that sanction Israel economically and culturally.’

Nehar Shah from Palestine Solidarity Campaign said: ‘There are thousands here today. I commend you. What greater depravity can be reached by the Israelis. They stand ready for a full invasion of Rafah, after they’ve already flattened it.

‘We need to heed the Palestinian call to stop arming Israel. There must be no western weapons sent. An end to the apartheid laws all over Palestine, the West Bank, Gaza and Occupied Jerusalem.

‘The Palestinians struggled on after the Nakba in 1948 and the redrawing of the map in 1967 and the Oslo Accords of 1994. Every empire falls. They are all pushed out by mass movements. There is international solidarity. A demand for a free Palestine. This isn’t just a chant or a slogan, it’s a promise and it will be delivered.