ISRAEL has turned Gaza into a ‘concentration camp’, demonstrators warned on Thursday night, at an emergency picket opposite Downing Street attended by over 50 people, demanding: ‘End the siege on Gaza!’
All through the two-hour-long picket, they chanted slogans including: ‘Free, Free Palestine!’, ‘Lift the Siege on Gaza!’, ‘From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free!’, ‘Palestine don’t you cry – we will never let you die!’, and ‘One, two, three, four – occupation no more! Five, six, seven, eight – we don’t want a Zionist state!’
They also loudly chanted: ‘Stop the killing, stop the crime! Israel out of Palestine!’, ‘What do we want
End the siege! When do we want it? Now!’, as well as ‘Hitler, Olmert are the same – the only difference is the name!’, ‘Palestine – yes! Israel – no!’, and ‘Israel, Israel what do you say, how many kids have you killed today!’
Raed Albelbaisi, from the General Union of Palestinian Students, said Thursday night’s picket was called ‘because of the situation in Gaza now, which has been happening since almost a year ago.’
He added: ‘In the last few days there has been nothing in the Gaza Strip to eat, the people there are starving, and also there’s no light, they cut off the electricity.
‘They cut off all the power and 400 people in the hospitals will die if that happens again.
‘We have to stand here to say to Mr Brown he has to take action to stop that now.
‘And also we’ve got a letter signed by the people who attend tonight and we’re going to deliver that letter to Mr Brown tonight.’
Ramsey Pietro Nasser, a student from SOAS in London, said: ‘It’s quite a clear crime against humanity what Israel is doing to the people of Gaza.
‘It’s collective punishment and a war and it’s very clear to ordinary people like myself.’
He added: ‘The trade unions should be showing solidarity with the Palestinians, everybody should. We’re all people.
‘I think there should be a boycott of Israel.’
Alice, a film maker from London, said: ‘People should speak out. They should speak out in public and say in public: this must not happen.
‘What Israel is doing is in no one’s interests. It’s collective punishment and it’s inhuman. Many people need to speak out.’
David Polden, from London CND, and David Watson, a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, also joined the picket, saying: ‘The situation in Gaza is dire. People are being murdered by the Israeli blockade.
‘More than 70 have died since Israel imposed the latest blockade.
‘Israel has carried out missile strikes which have killed men, women and children.
‘The worst thing is they are cutting power so that water can’t be purified.
‘A convoy is being organised to Gaza from Israel this Saturday, from opponents of Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.
‘It is important to be here tonight.’
David Watson added: ‘At the very least, there should be a consumer boycott of Israel, like against South African apartheid, which was wicked in itself.
‘The Palestinians are facing a military campaign against them which has been going on for a long time.
‘In fact, Desmond Tutu has gone on record as saying that the Israeli occupation of Palestine makes the South African apartheid system look like a tea party.’
David Polder said: ‘I think there should be political strike action by the trade unions to demand that the British government changes its policy of support for Israel.
‘Israel has been punishing the Palestinians ever since the Palestinians elected Hamas.’
Jamie Renwick, a musician from London, said: ‘I’m demonstrating against a terrorist state who are illegally occupying a land – bringing about one of the worst humanitarian crises in the last two centuries – and to voice my disgust at the inactivity of the Houses (of Parliament) that are supposed to represent us.
‘People need to be educated about what’s happened with Israel. People don’t realise that Israel stole Palestinians’ land in the first place.
‘The only solution I can see is one state, not a “two-state solution’’, that’s pointless, but one state where there are no second-class citizens, which the diaspora of the Palestinians can return to.’
He added: ‘I’ve seen (news) footage of a kid being kept alive by a hand pump – because that was the only way to get oxygen into his lungs, because the electricity had been cut off by Israel.’
Akram Awad, a Palestinian student, said: ‘It’s a real, slow genocide now. Israel has turned Gaza into a concentration camp, but even then is still continuing to attack the Palestinians in Gaza by missiles, F16s, and tank shells.
‘Israel has claimed to have withdrawn its forces from Gaza three years ago, but Gaza is still physically under occupation because all the border points are blocked and fully controlled by the Israeli army.
‘The Israeli army never stopped attacking the Palestinians.
‘Israel has full control over Gaza’s electricity, food and water supply and they have the final and sole decision on who goes in and who goes out, which has resulted in the deaths of tens of Palestinian patients who didn’t have a chance to go outside Gaza to get medical treatment.’
Shaima, a student from Cambridge, said: ‘I’m from Iraq and I’m totally against what Israel is doing to my brothers and sisters in Palestine.
‘I think it’s our right to have a normal life, like anyone else.
‘In Britain, everything is provided for us, like electricity and water. The Palestinians are human beings too.
‘All they are asking for is the simplest things: heating and water, especially at this time, in the middle of winter.’
Leon Amir, a student from City University, said: ‘I’m here to show solidarity to lift the siege.
‘This is very, very bad in the long term and means the UK is losing a lot of support internationally for supporting Israel and having double standards like they do. You cannot have double standards.’
The picket was told that today – Saturday – there will be an international day of action to lift the siege of Gaza.
Everyone was urged to take part in another picket of Downing Street from 4.00pm this afternoon, to demand: ‘Free Gaza now!’