END THE OCCUPATION! VICTORY TO PALESTINE! – demand 25,000 marchers

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Large  numbers of young people took part in last Saturday’s demonstration in central London to give their full support to the Palestinian people
Large numbers of young people took part in last Saturday’s demonstration in central London to give their full support to the Palestinian people

A MASS demonstration of around 25,000 people from all over Britain and other countries marched in support of Palestine from Downing Street through central London to the Israeli Embassy in Kensington on Saturday.

Banners on the march included: the Turkish and Kurdish Community Centre banner, which said: ‘Israel Out of Palestine, Stop the Massacre’.

There were hundreds of ‘Gaza End the Seige’ placards from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other banners, including: ‘Stop Defending Israeli Ethnic Cleansing’.

The Young Socialists banner read: ‘End Israeli War on Gaza! End the Occupation! Victory to Palestine!’

Hundreds of marchers joined in the continuous slogans behind the YS banner: ‘Intifada Night and Day – Zionism you will Pay! One State – Palestine! End the Siege of Gaza – End the Seige Now! 1, 2, 3, 4 – Occupation No More, 5, 6, 7, 8 – Israel is a Terrorist State! Victory to Palestine – Smash Zionism Now!’

As the march was assembling, Fernando Rodriguez, from Spain, told News Line: ‘Last week the people of Gaza struck a great blow for Palestine and for revolution.

‘Revolution is the answer for millions of people around the world and the people of Gaza showed that the poor people have the solution, revolution.

‘Revolution is also the answer in Spain. At this moment in time we are a rich country with a lot of problems. People have no jobs and with this system it’s impossible.

‘They don’t need workers, they need slaves. The union of the working class is the answer in revolution.’

Romy Teppoulp, from France, said: ‘What happened last week was a blow against Israel. Now they must be made to stop the occupation.

‘The media manipulate in favour of Israel all the time. The French media are particularly bad. Workers organisations and unions should do more and act now to support Palestine.

‘We’re seeing revolution around the world now. We saw the Arab Spring last year and you can also see what is happening now in Europe.’

Maria Mullor, from the Stop the War movement said: ‘Palestine must be supported. The Gaza Strip is constantly under attack from Israel. America is behind Israel. The siege of Gaza must be broken.’

Carol Zerpa-Falcon said: ‘There should be a boycott of all goods from the occupied territories and a boycott of any companies which trade with the settlements in particular.

‘I’ve not been to Gaza, but I’ve been to the occupied territories. We met a number of ex-IDF (Israeli Defence Force) soldiers in a group called Breaking the Silence.

‘They go round telling what the IDF is doing, particularly to children. Many of them are really ashamed of what they’ve done.

‘A lot of Israelis are now refusing to go into the IDF and they end up in jail.’

Omar, from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Palestine Forum in Britain, claimed: ‘Last week was a mini victory.’

He continued: ‘Israel were pressured into the ceasefire by the public and the rest of the world, but the seige has still got to be broken.’

The march started with hundreds of white baloons with the Palestine flag on them being released into the sky.

Shopon Ali, a CWU member and postal worker from Birmingham, told News Line: ‘Last week Gaza won. From this victory there is now in-fighting inside the Israeli regime.

‘It was not just a physical victory, it was a moral victory too. Israel is demoralised. It’s opened up the world’s eyes to what Israel is really like.’

Niall Kennedy, a philophy student from Glasgow, said: ‘Last week Israel were planning a ground invasion and now they’ve been thrown back.

‘What’s needed now is the stepping up of international action to end the blockade.

‘I personally don’t buy goods from Israel, but we need more organised action.’

Valeska Matziol, a community development worker from Manchester, said: ‘The media are so pro-Israel, depicting the Palestinians as the terrorists, when it is Israel that is terrorist.

‘We all have to ensure that the Palestinians get justice and have their rights respected. The unions have to organise an effective boycott of Israel.’

Aneesah from Roehampton University, said: ‘I think for Israel to be forced to back out is a great victory.

‘They were promising a ground invasion and they had to pull back and agree a ceasefire. It was a humiliation.

‘Then yesterday a 20-year-old was shot in the face and killed by the Israelis. The Israelis must be forced to implement the ceasefire.

‘The Arab countries must show their support by not trading with Israel and other countries must boycott Israel as well.’

Hana Alharoum, a student from Leeds, said: ‘We should keep putting pressure on the governments – our government, the Israeli government and the American government.

‘I also think the Arab Spring will change the situation as well, because Egypt, prior to this event, they never helped Gaza. But now they have to.

‘Before, neighbouring Arab countries were no use, they never cared, but now, hopefully, it’s different.’

Gerard McGrath, Unison Secretary Haringey Local Government Branch, said: ‘We’re all outraged at what we saw last week, which were tantamount to war crimes against humanity by Israel.

‘All the trade unions in the TUC are all in support of Palestine being able to establish their own future and destiny without being terrorised, especially by the Netanyahu regime.

‘He is a notorious right-winger.

‘Last week was a major step on the road to victory.

‘But of course, there are so many Palestinian families bereaved and living in bombed out, derelict conditions.

‘We need to stand with them and help them rebuild their lives.

‘The trade unions in Britain could and must do a lot more.’

Qudus Balogun, from Queen Mary’s University in east London, said: ‘The Palestinian people won a victory last week, because, one, the ceasefire ended the crime of killing the Gazan people, and two, the border agreement says there must be free passage for the Palestinian people and the borders must be freed up.

‘Up till now Palestinians have had to show cards to Israeli border guards.

‘The agreement says they should stop restrictions on the borders.

‘The Israeli government is not ready to comply and yesterday they shot and killed one Gazan man on the border again, despite the ceasefire agreement.

‘All in all, if President Mursi of Egypt and his co-Arab League members could mount pressure on Israel, then victory is not far away.

‘Also, we need a revolution in Britain.

‘Cameron has turned everything upside-down.

‘This is a government of the rich, which supports Israel all the way.’

l A rally took place in the centre of Norwich on Saturday demanding the end of the siege of Gaza.

The meeting was organised by the Stop the War coalition and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Around 100 people listened to speeches from different political parties and campaign groups.

These included Nick O’Brian and Peter Offord from Stop the War, Sarah Knox from PSC, Leslie Griffiths a Green Councillor, Jessica Goldfinch from Norwich Progressive Jews Society, Ian Gibson, former Norwich Labour MP, Gabriel Polley Young Socialists, and Cal Corkery, UEA PSC

Polley said ‘Israel wanted to destroy the Palestinian resistance, and nip a third intifada in the bud …

‘There must be an economic and cultural boycott of Israel and its apartheid system and the TUC must enforce this.

‘We call for an end of the occupation, for one state of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital, to which all Palestinian refugees may return.

‘The TUC must call a general strike to bring this government down, and end 100 years of support for the Zionist colonisation of Palestine.’

Gibson, the former Labour MP, told News Line, ‘There is no doubt that the Israeli forces supported by the UK and US arms are terrorising the people in that part of the world … they would love to drive them into the sea.

‘What’s happening at the minute is that they are just pretending to have a truce, it will come up again.

‘They hope the Egyptians are watching too because they don’t know which way the Egyptians will go. At the minute they seem to be with the Palestinians.

‘They are also looking at Iran and saying, “Just you wait, what we are doing in Gaza is nothing compared to what we will do with you if we get half a chance.’

University of East Anglia student Ashra said, ‘I think it’s absolutely wrong and horrendous what’s happening.

‘The Israelis have gone against international law not just occupying Palestine for decades but also a siege on the innocent people and children of Gaza.

‘In some ways everything leads back to the oil in the Middle East.’

His colleague Arqum said ‘Egypt should open the border that connects them to Gaza to allow Egyptians to go over. I’ve seen so many videos of how the Egyptian army have a blockade from humanitarian aid. They must allow it to go through.

‘In Egypt they have the resources to help them.

‘They are next door neighbours so why stop them receiving this humanitarian aid?

‘When the flotilla happened it came from international waters, from Turkey, and the IDF had their excuses.

‘If Egyptians could just walk across the road then the IDF could not physically intervene.’

• See photo gallery for more pictures