TWO THOUSAND people marched through the centre of London on Sunday demanding an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine as part of the annual al-Quds Day demonstration.
Al-Quds Day is an annual demonstration of solidarity with the Palestinian people and is observed in cities around the world, with tens of thousands hitting the streets in the name of Palestine in global capitals.
The event was initiated by Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran, who led the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in that country to overthrow the pro-imperialist, pro-Zionist regime of the Shah and brought in a revolutionary government which has given consistent support to the Palestinian people and their struggle for freedom.
‘Al-Quds’ is the Arabic and Islamic name for the city of Jerusalem, Palestine’s capital.
Jerusalem is a holy city for members of the three religions of Palestine, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, and members of those faiths lived together in al-Quds and in Palestine for centuries in harmony.
However, in 1948 (after a terrorist campaign in the city by Zionist gangs like the Stern Gang and the Irgun, who were responsible for the King David Hotel bombing of 1946 in which 91 people were killed), the State of Israel occupied the western half of the city, from which Muslim and Christian Palestinians were ethnically cleansed.
In 1967, Israel occupied the Old City and East Jerusalem, and since then Palestinians in those areas have lived under military occupation, systematic deprivation and the absence of any sort of human rights.
Palestinian residents in al-Quds face the policy of Israeli ‘Judaisation’ of the city, in which hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers are moved into Arab neighbourhoods in an attempt to change the demographics of the city, and the Palestinian presence is erased.
Al-Quds has been a centre of the current uprising against the Israeli regime, with Jerusalemite youth refusing to accept the future of a life under occupation and Israel initiating a savage campaign of terror and arrests, including the formation of a new elite police unit last week tasked with hunting out Palestinians.
This year’s al-Quds Day demonstration in London, organised by the Islamic Human Rights Committee and InMinds, assembled in Duchess Street near the BBC, before marching to the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square.
The BBC was chosen as a starting point to highlight the British media’s whitewashing of Israel’s crimes, whilst the US Embassy was a fitting destination as America gives billions of dollars in ‘aid’ (money and military technology) to Israel each year, weapons turned against the Palestinians.
This year, coaches arrived from Birmingham and Manchester to join the demonstrators in London, all with one voice to say ‘Free Free Palestine!’
The flag of the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon, Hezbollah, was flying alongside the Palestinian flag above the streets of London.
A sizeable number of Orthodox Jews attended the march to show their complete opposition to Zionism, demonstrating that Zionism and the Jewish religion are by no means the same thing, and they even proudly held up the yellow and green of the Hezbollah flag.
The News Line interviewed a number of participants on the march.
Shakeel from Birmingham said: ‘Several coaches of us have come down from Birmingham today.
‘We come here every year, I’ve been coming for 35 years since I was a kid, and we’ve always supported the cause of the victims against the aggressor, the Zionists who occupied Palestine.
‘Before they invaded, it was a holy land of Muslims, Jews and Christians, and they all lived in peace for 2000 years.
‘All we’ve known for the last 70 years is aggression, and the aggressor trying to blame the victim.
‘The problem is with western governments, as well as Arab governments who are the biggest culprits, puppets of NATO, the empire, and the western empires put them into power.
‘Saudi Arabia is working to disarm the military resistance of Hamas!
‘They have a legitimate right to exist, a community of people have the right to resist in any way they can.
‘Israel has the best weapons that Britain, America, France can throw at them, the best tanks, warships, cannons, aircraft, and the Palestinians have nothing at all.
‘If the Palestinians throw up their hands and demand their rights, their homes are demolished – we just saw a Palestinian village in the Negev desert (al-Araqib) demolished for the 100th time.
‘We’ll be here every year until Israel is dismantled.’
Georgie from southeast London said: ‘I’m here in support of the Palestinian people, who are oppressed by Israel.
‘I don’t understand why, when the United Nations says that the settlements are illegal, they allow the presence of half a million settlers on Palestinian land.
‘If it’s illegal it should be stopped, and I want to know why the UN is doing nothing about it.
‘I think these demonstrations are important, boycotting Israeli goods is important, the academic boycott is important – they have to be treated like the pariah they are, like South Africa.’
Viviana from Southwark, London said: ‘I really feel for the people, the Palestinians’ cause is the cause of the people, making a stand against injustice.
‘I hope there are loads of people today, because that is the weapon we have, it makes a lot of difference.’
Zainab from Wembley said: ‘I’m here because of the injustice.
The Palestinians have done nothing wrong, what is happening is just unjust.
‘We should all come together and free Palestine from Israel.’
Riza from London said: ‘I’m here to raise awareness of the injustice in Palestine, if we don’t do it then no one will.
‘They are humans like us and we have freedoms, why shouldn’t they?’
As the march proceeded, the crowd chanted ‘One-two-three-four, occupation no more, five-six-seven-eight, Israel is a terror state!’ and ‘Palestine, we love you,’ adapted from a football chant, led by a lively drummer.
A small number of Zionist counter-demonstrators followed the march, with a heavy police guard, and about 100 Zionists and allied right-wing and racist groups were waiting in Grosvenor Square where they shouted ‘terrorist scum, off our streets’ at the orderly demonstrators who included families, the old and the very young.
No incidents occurred, however, and the demonstrators dispersed at the end of the march, safe in the knowledge that their presence on the streets of London had inspired the Palestinian people of al-Quds and the whole of Palestine to continue their struggle for freedom.