IMMEDIATE CEASEFIRE! – demands powerful east London march for Palestine

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The march for Palestine sets off from Mile End

A POWERFUL march of 500 protesters for Palestine marched through east London on Saturday, setting off from Mile End and marching to Aktab Ali Park.

It was led by a marching band and three banners – ‘Health Workers 4 Palestine,’ a banner with pictures of dead health workers from the bombing of Gaza and ‘East London March to Stop Nakba2 and Stop Arming Israel.’

Cars tooted their horns as the march proceeded through East London and shoppers and passers-by cheered and voiced their support.

The marchers chanted: ‘Ceasefire now, no war! Hospitals, nurses, doctors, not a target! Palestine, not a target! 1234 occupation no more! 5678 Israel is a terrorist state! Stop killing children, stop killing babies! From Iraq to Palestine occupation, is a crime!’

There was a banner from Tower Hamlets Trades Council and a delegation of Authentic Rabbis with their banners saying ‘Always opposed to Zionism and the state of Israel’. They were led by Orthodox Jewish children dressed in Palestinian flags.

News Line spoke to marcher Shayma Izzidien with her daughters. She said: ‘Me and my three children were going to the shops this morning, but having seen photos and videos of starving children  in Gaza, all of us were compelled to join the march against the government’s complicity in genocide.’

Another marcher Peter Ashton, Unison member and librarian, told News Line: ‘The occupation of Palestine has gone on for too long. We can trace it back to 1917 when France and Britain made a secret deal to carve up the Middle East between themselves.

‘The British government encouraged the Arab people to revolt against the Ottoman empire during World War I so they could control their land.

‘Israel was set up under the Balfour declaration in 1917 as an apartheid state. This oppression has to end.’

At the rally in Mile End Park before the march set off the first speaker was Andrew Feinstein, South African born anti-Zionist former ANC Congress MP and advisor to Nelson Mandela.

He said: ‘I’m standing as an independent MP against Starmer in the Holborn and St Pancras constituency. Thank you for turning out for Gaza and Palestine.

‘We are witnessing the second Nakba. What is being done is indefensible – Britain is funding genocide in real time. British weapons are used to kill Palestinians. Elbit and politicians are profiting from the genocide. How do they respond to this catastrophe? They turned Parliament into a circus on Wednesday.

‘The Scottish National Party had a serious motion for a permanent ceasefire. Starmer, strong-armed the Speaker and told him he’ll lose his job, unless the government and the Labour Party put amendments, the wording of which was discussed with the US president and Israel’s president.

‘The western world has the best democracy money can buy – that is why they are supporting Israel.

‘I am a Jew and the son of a Holocaust survivor. My mum taught me never again for all humanity can it happen again, but now because our political leaders realise they are on the wrong side of history they now want to stop our right to protest.

‘They lied that MPs were in danger if they voted for the SNP amendment.

‘We would never put politicians lives at risk. They had to say this to hide what they are doing. They call our marches hate marches. We came together as people for humanity.

‘We have to keep protesting in ever larger numbers and stop all arm sales and take action against Elbit and all arm sales to Israel. No ceasefire – no vote.

‘My former boss Nelson Mandela, when released from prison, said our freedom is incomplete, without the freedom of Palestine.’

The next speaker was local GP Jackie Appleby, who is a member of Doctors in Unite. She said: ‘It is insulting to our Jewish brothers and sisters to equate Zionism and Judaism.

‘There needs to be a ceasefire now. After five months of bombing Gaza, we have 30,000 dead, half of them children.

‘Pregnant women are having Caesareans with no anaesthetic. Kids are having their limbs amputated with no anaesthetics. There’s no hygiene, no oxygen, no medicines, no equipment, there’s no food.

‘Now a great big prison camp is being built in Egypt, which has been fenced off close to the border with Rafah.

‘We went to the West Bank where healthcare workers are working in the most difficult conditions, constantly being threatened by Israeli soldiers.

‘Palestinians have a right to resist and bear arms, they must not be disarmed. We have to keep up the pressure. We got rid of Braverman, the Home Secretary who accused us of having hate marches.

‘Now we have to get rid of the whole government. We are showing them up. We will not give up our right to protest outside Parliament or MPs offices.’

Max Gerber, part of the Jewish Bloc said: ‘I am anti-Zionist which is not linked to being Jewish.

‘Western leaders only protect Israel to protect their interests in the Middle East.

‘They are trying to divide us. Our our eyes should be focused on Gaza. Entire blood lines have been killed, hospitals and schools, destroyed, cultural heritage smashed up. Our eyes must focus on Palestine. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.’

The next speaker was Kareem from the Gaza Sunbirds, who said: ‘The founder of the Sunbirds, Allah al-Dali, was our best cyclist and an Olympic hopeful in Palestine. In 2017, because of Israeli restrictions, he couldn’t leave to represent Palestine in the Asian Games.

‘Four months later he was at the first March for Freedom on 30th March 2018 when he was shot. 32,000 Palestinians were shot, killed or injured on the Marches for Freedom 2018-2019.

‘Al-Dali was shot in the leg and it was touch and go whether he would live. He then became the first paralympian to represent Palestine. He wants to create a paralympic team called the Sunbirds.

‘The Sunbird is a symbol of freedom because the bird knows no borders or limits.

‘Ten children every day are having their limbs amputated many without anaesthetics.

‘The Sunbird cyclists have distributed on their bikes 100,000 food and sanitation products to Gazans during the war.

‘Despite everything, Palestinians have hope in the future so we can’t lose hope either. The fight goes on and your voice matters. We will not stop till we are free.’

The rally joined in as Kareem chanted: ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free. In our thousands and millions we are all Palestinians.’

The final speaker at Mile End park was Chris Anglin UCU Chairman of Conel. He said: ‘I salute, the Palestinians. Victory, victory to Palestine.

‘Two days ago, Starmer sabotaged the ceasefire vote in Parliament. We know he’s a Zionist but the issue is for the trade union movement to take action.

‘We voted for a one-day strike in our union branch to support Palestine, but we never heard anything about it from our leadership.

‘These trade union leaders are not interested in stopping the war on Palestine.

‘UCU lecturer in Bristol University, David Miller was sacked and went to a tribunal and won his case that it is not antisemitic to say Zionism is racism and colonialism. Anti-Zionism is not antisemitism.

‘We must call a general strike to bring down the government. We must march on Parliament and shut it down like Cromwell did in the 17th century. We need a workers government to support Palestine, a one-state Palestine.’

At the second rally, after the march had reached Watney market in Shadwell, Dr Kambiz Boomla of St Mary’s Medical School, said: ‘On Wednesday, Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons, fixed the vote for the safety of MPs, but what about the safety of Palestinians!

‘Israel has been targeting hospitals and cutting off their power supply. At least 340 health workers have been killed. Hospitals and schools have been destroyed so people can’t live. Centres for healthcare have been smashed up entirely.

‘The next Day of Action is on Friday March 8th on International Women’s Day. We must escalate strike action on that day.

‘March 9th, will be the next national march. We can’t stand by as Gazans are being murdered.’

John Rees from Stop the War said: ‘We have a total debacle of politicians. If we went to any high street and picked any shopper they would be better at running the country.

‘They would know what a genocide is if they saw it. In the opinion polls 66% support a ceasefire and only 13% support Israel. Lindsay Hoyle stopped MPs voting for the SNP motion on Wednesday.

‘Since the Levellers and since the Chartists we have a long tradition of freedom of speech and no MP will stop us.

‘Boris Johnson said let the bodies pile high during Covid. They would casually let us die here. We are all Palestinians and we face the same fight.’

Emily Stevenson of Jews Against Occupation and for Palestine said: ‘For last 140 days I have been furious about the shameful behaviour of politicians – the pathetic point scoring over senseless motions.

‘They prioritise their careers over Palestine. They use antisemitism to protect the government. They don’t care about us. They only care about Jews when they use us as a cudgel, as a weapon against Palestinians.

‘The government is utilising the suffering of Jews to aid the slaughter of Palestinians.

‘I won’t have it done in my name, they should do it in their name. Zionists call us traitors but I am speaking with the voice of my ancestors who were expelled in their hundreds of thousands in Spain 1492 and the many other times when we escaped, genocide and pogroms.

‘I will live to see a free Palestine.’

Ahmed Eldin, Palestinian journalist from the Reporting Network said: ‘I stand with our colleagues – two more journalists were killed last night.

‘132 have been killed – the highest number of journalists in any war situation. That means 10% of all journalists since October 7th have been murdered.

‘Israel continues to deny access to Gaza for journalists, unless they are embedded with the Israeli army.

‘Our news network of genocide coverage has shown the world what’s going on. We all agree that the courage of the Palestinian journalists is amazing.

‘They have seen their families killed, they haven’t eaten in days and yet they carry on broadcasting their messages.

‘They receive threatening messages from Israeli forces that they will kill them and their families and they still continue to report. If you can’t speak up approach us and we will give you support.’