‘STOP ARMING ISRAEL–LIFT THE SIEGE!’ – 2,000 workers and youth demand at 10 Downing Street

Women at the front of Saturday’s demonstration depicting the Israeli slaughter of Palestinian children in Gaza
Women at the front of Saturday’s demonstration depicting the Israeli slaughter of Palestinian children in Gaza

‘STOP arming Israel!’ ‘Free, free Palestine!’ ‘Lift the siege!’ ‘Boycott!’ shouted over 2,000 workers and youth at a lobby of Downing Street on Saturday.

A number of demonstrators carried posters reading ‘Cameron Zionist lackey’ and ‘Stop the killing’ and there were banners from Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War, International Anti-Zionist Network and Chelsea Fans Against Israeli Apartheid.

Along the front of the lobby were placed photos of Palestinian children killed by Israeli air strikes and a couple of mothers held child dolls wrapped in red-stained sheets.

News Line spoke to some of the angry protesters.

Ihtesham Afzal, a graduate from north London, was with a group of friends. He said: ‘We’ve come to protest at British complicity in Israeli crimes. We believe the MPs and all the political establishment work for us, and they need to listen to us.

‘Demonstrations like this are just one aspect of political participation. The occupation and oppression of Palestinians has been going on a long time. Part of that are the allowances the West gives to Israel.

‘It does not hold Israel accountable. This is not just about what is going on now with the massacres, it’s the injustice that stems from the occupation.

‘Then we have the involvement of the British political establishment which lets Israel do what they want. Thirdly, the media controls the information that comes out.

‘Their selective analysis is shocking. When you read their pieces, you would think it is the Palestinians that are occupying, not the Israelis. We should not let the media dictate when we take action.

‘We have people from all walks of life on these demonstrations because we are coming here on what unifies us which is fighting for justice, freedom, equality and peace.’

Ealing charity worker Fatima Bartlett told News Line: ‘I’m here mainly because I’m outraged by the situation in Gaza. I’m angry at the fact that the Israeli government are allowed to kill thousands of civilians with impunity and that the British government is supporting them.

‘The trade unions should participate in the BDS (boycott, disinvestment and sanctions) movement. They should organise a trade union boycott of Israeli goods, as well as an academic boycott. They should take action against the Cameron government over its support for Israel.’

Catrina Sampson, a full time mum from Uxbridge, said: ‘I’m here to stop all these murders, to try to stop our government giving funds to Israel, arming them with weapons that are killing innocent people.

‘The Palestinians don’t stand much of chance to defend themselves, they don’t have a proper army. An Israeli child died recently and (Israeli prime minister) Netanyahu said he is going to make Hamas pay, but they’ve been “making them pay” for a long time.

‘They are going to bomb even more civilians in Gaza. No child on either side should be killed. A handful of Israeli civilians and soldiers have died, yet thousands of Palestinian civilians, including children, have been killed by Israeli forces.

‘It’s all about the gas and oil in the sea off Gaza. Israel is greedy, it’s not just about the land, it’s about money as well. It’s not about religion, it’s about greed. Our government should not give away any part of any country, it’s not theirs to give as they did after WW1.

‘The Palestinians took in people after those wars and looked after them, and this is how they are repaid. The trade unions should boycott everything going into and out of Israel.’

Bouchra Elogda from Horley, Surrey, said: ‘I’ve come to stop the killing if I can, to stop the injustice.

‘If the world wants peace, then everybody has to be treated fairly.

‘The trade unions should boycott Israel, anybody with power should boycott Israel until the occupation, killing, destruction, the misery, stops. This is a human crisis more than anything. Everybody in the world should have a decent life.’

London Transport worker and Unite member, Ali Sahar from Slough, told News Line: ‘I’ve come to support the Palestinians. I’m sad about the killing of civilians, especially the kids, I have children myself.

‘Everyday there are pictures in newspapers of children that have been blown apart and killed in the Israeli air strikes, it’s so upsetting. The British government have to get involved and force Israel to stop, they have the power to do that.

‘They need to stop the supply of arms to Israel, make them talk. I want Israel to stop killing civilians.

‘The unions should organise a boycott of Israel – all the unions, they are the power really.’

Fadiya, a Palestinian living in Britain, said: ‘Britain gave a country away when it wasn’t theirs to give.

‘The Middle East is the centre of the world and it has oil. Their policy was divide and rule. Cameron is a Zionist lackey, he has no guts whatsoever.

‘We’re not anti-semetic, I’m a semite. The Israelis are anti-semetic by killing our people, our children, destroying their homes for more Jewish settlements. They bomb people in their homes!’

Lane Atwood, a Romanian studying and working in London, said: ‘I’m here to support the Palestinian cause and draw attention to the fact that the British government has so far failed to take a resolute stand against the abuses and war crimes perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people.

‘At the very least, we must stop all arms trade with Israel. I would not have Palestinian blood on my hands, which is why it was imperative for me to come here today.

‘Workers and youth in Britain need to support the BDS movement, boycott all Israeli products until Israel ends the occupation, grants the Palestinian refugees their right of return and gives everyone equal rights.

‘The trade unions should organise a trade boycott, the more organised we get the better. The unions should put pressure on the government to end its support of Israel.’