‘FREE, Free Palestine! Gaza, Gaza we will never let you go! From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free!’ chanted angry protesters on Saturday’s huge 100,000-strong march from Downing Street to the Israeli embassy in Kensington.
The march was in response to the stepping up of the onslaught on the Gaza by Israeli tanks, aircraft and drones as a ground invasion followed nearly a fortnight of airstrikes on the densely-populated coastal strip.
Over 280 Palestinians have been killed, many of them civilians, including women, children and elderly Palestinians.
News Line spoke to some of the marchers.
Hannan Mekhid, a young accountant from south London, said: ‘I think a trade union boycott is a big force in getting the message through to Israel. If you hit them economically, Israel will be forced to rethink their actions.
‘There should be a permanent boycott because of what Israel has done, breaching human rights laws. I feel strongly about the bombardment, civilians are being killed, including children.’
Her student friend from Harrow, northwest London, Amina Salhi, added: ‘The mainstream media in portraying what is actually happening in Palestine.
‘It’s either a pro-Israeli bias or they make it out to be some sort of symmetrical warfare. People are using social media as an alternative to educate people as to what is actually happening.
‘I feel extremely hurt and sympathetic at the same time because innocents are being killed. I find it ironic that a state given to free people from the genocide they were experiencing are now inflicting genocide on the Palestinians.
‘The trade unions throughout the world should take action. You don’t have to be Arab or Muslim, it’s a human issue. I support a new Intifada. The British trade unions should take action against the Cameron government over its support for Israel.’
Another student, Ahmed Mahmoud from Walthamstow, told News Line: ‘It’s a very big demonstration and that’s a good thing. We are all united to stop the war. We don’t want Israel to bomb people in Gaza. All we want is peace, nothing more.
‘The media are pro-Israel. They always report Israel are reacting to Hamas. But we know that’s not true. It’s a shambles really. We live in a democratic country, a hundred thousand are marching today. All we want is justice.’
NHS IT worker, Riz Khan from Slough, said: ‘It’s crazy. It’s unbelievable what’s happening. Innocent people – mothers, children, fathers and brothers are oppressed and killed. There’s no war as such, which is what the Israelis claim.
‘They claim they are defending themselves. What happened with the Jewish population under Hitler, they are doing the same thing in the 21st century. I can’t comprehend – they’ve been through that, why are they inflicting the same on Palestinians. It’s a terrible thing.
‘America backs Israel. The British, the Americans, every nation should stop what’s going on. Everyone should take action. There should be a trade union boycott of Israel. The UK government is quick to sanction others, we’re asking it for the same sanctions on Israel.
‘There should be no trade in goods or services with Israel until the occupation ends. All we want is freedom in Palestinian hands, let them live their life, free.’
Gulnaz Khan, a support worker from Feltham, said: ‘The situation is awful. There needs to be more awareness of the situation in Palestine. Many people in the West see it as a religious conflict. They don’t see it as a humanitarian issue.
‘And in the media, Muslims are seen in a negative way. This obviously has an impact on people’s view of what is going on in Palestine. But it is political. Israel wants more power and more control and they have their allies behind them – David Cameron and Obama. The British trade unions should boycott Israel. Chile has recently banned trade with Israel, everyone should.’
Stop the War Coalition chair, Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn told a huge rally in Kensington High Street outside the Israeli embassy: ‘People in Gaza are angry.
‘Why shouldn’t they be angry, their water supply is cut off, their electricity is cut. If this was happening anywhere else there would be sanctions. Let Palestinian children have a life. Stop the trade with Israel and let Palestinians have a life.’
Other speakers called for a trade and military boycott on Israel.
Harry Saghir, an auditor from Pinner, told News Line at the rally: ‘The Arab world has a part to play if they stopped buying Israeli goods and they took their money out of the banks. It would cripple Israel in no time. The only reason Israel has power is because they have a lot of money.
‘They don’t value lives, only money. We should hit them where it hurts. The bombing of Gaza is atrocious, it’s inhumane. The British trade unions should take action and impose their own boycott.’
An engineer from Crystal Palace, southeast London, Rashid Talidi said: ‘I’m here to represent the innocent children that have lost their lives in Gaza. 108 have died since the onslaught. I’m angry at the media, especially the BBC who haven’t been covering the onslaught.
‘The media is not supposed to take sides, but the BBC has an opinion in favour of Israel. This whole thing was started by the British in 1917 with the signing of the Balfour Treaty. It’s crazy that the Palestinians seem to have paid for the holocaust of Jews. The Israeli state is an Apartheid state.
‘There’s never been grief between Jews and Arabs, it shows what’s happening in Palestine is political. The unions should take action, they should organise a trade boycott of Israeli goods. We should be pushing for a one-state solution where Jews, Muslims and Christians live side by side.’