First speaker at the rally was the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK Husam Zomlot, who said: ‘Israel has killed 11,000 innocent people and is starving 2.3 million people in Gaza.
‘They have killed 5,000 children. Is the life of a Palestinian child worth less than any other child?’
‘Great Britain is renowned for championing free speech, yet there are those who want to cancel a march demanding a ceasefire and call it a hate march. Remember how you stood up to apartheid in South Africa. It took decades but you prevailed then and we will prevail today. Look around and see the Christians, Muslims and Jews here today.
‘Please applaud the Jews who are with us here today and have been with us for 75 years. Do not let them divide us. This is the power of the people. These are the very different people of Palestine.
‘Let us rescue tomorrow. The Palestinian people will never stop the struggle for our future. We are one united people – in Gaza, in Jerusalem and in the world. We demand Ceasefire Now! and we demand Free, Free Palestine!’
Lindsey German, from the Stop the War Coalition, said: ‘We have been accused by Suella Braverman of organising a hate march. She is a pound shop Enoch Powell. Keir Starmer has been an absolute disgrace. The SNP is putting a motion for a ceasefire and Starmer’s telling Labour MPs not to vote for it. He is an abomination. Antony Blinken said last week that there are far too many Palestinians being killed. I’d like to ask him how many Palestinians is it okay to kill?’
Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary said: ‘The message from the RMT is simple – we are here in full support of Palestine. We will promote fundraising for Medical Aid for Gaza. We demand freedom and liberation of Gaza. We call for an immediate ceasefire.
‘The RMT opposes anti-semitism and Islamophobia. We condemn the far right hate merchants and provocateurs such as the Home Secretary. Call the ceasefire, stop the deaths, keep campaigning, keep marching.’
Fran Heathcote, PCS President, said: ‘Today we are demanding an end to the 75 years of occupation and ethnic cleansing. It’s naked racism. We must stand up against it with every fibre of our being.
‘In Gaza today there is a massacre of thousands of innocent men, women and children. You will never stop us fighting for Palestine or fighting for our right to strike and we will continue fighting this rotten capitalist system.’
Emily Stevenson from Na’Amod read a poem by Jewish poet Michael Rosen. He wrote it after Israel banned a radio advert in July 2014 listing the names of the children killed in Gaza.
The last two stanzas of the poem read: ‘People must understand that it would be dangerous to know the names of the children.
‘The people must be protected from knowing the names of the children.
‘The names of the children could spread like wildfire.
‘The people would not be safe if they knew the names of the children.
‘Don’t name the dead children.
‘Don’t remember the dead children.
‘Don’t think of the dead children.
‘Don’t say “dead children”.’
After the poem, Palestinian children read out the names and ages of 50 children killed in the Zionist genocide in Gaza during the past month. While they read the names out pictures of the murdered children appeared on the big screen next to the stage.
Next speaker was Imran Hussein, MP for Bradford East, the Labour MP who resigned from the shadow cabinet last week in opposition to Keir Starmer’s support for Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.
He said: ‘It wasn’t Westminster that sent me to Bradford East, it was the people of Bradford East who sent me to Westminster. They expect me to stand up for peace. We are seeing utmost genocide. These are acts of collective punishment. They are war crimes pure and simple.
‘We refuse to be silenced. We send a clear message to this government – stop the siege, stop the bombing, stop the genocide. Ceasefire now.’
Apsana Begum, Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, said: ‘The situation is beyond urgent with 11,000 people killed in just over 30 days. We’ve come under cynical attack for opposing mass killing. It’s not us spreading hate and division. How can it be right to collectively punish and to kill children? Where is the humanity? History will judge those who support war crimes. We demand an immediate ceasefire and an end to the siege of Gaza.’
ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: ‘I condemn this government who didn’t want you to have a voice here today. All around the world masses are marching and marching. The idea that you can have a humanitarian pause implies that they can start bombing again. No! Ceasefire now!’
Richard Burgon, Labour MP for Leeds East, said: ‘Our message to Suella Braverman is that hundreds of thousands are marching not for hate but for humanity. Stop the war crimes! Stop the bombing! Ceasefire now!
‘The UN Secretary General says we need a ceasefire. Oxfam, Save the Children, Amnesty all call for a ceasefire, not for pauses used for more displacement of Palestinian people.
‘Almost 100 MPs have backed my parliamentary motion calling for a ceasefire. It will be voted on in Parliament next’ (this) ‘Wednesday. The children in Gaza even held a press conference. They said we want to live like other children live. Let’s give them their wish. Ceasefire now!’
Zara Sultana, Labour MP for Conventry East, said: ‘Today in Gaza, Israel’s assaults are killing a child every 10 minutes. The children killed in Gaza today could have been saved by a ceasefire yesterday. No, to a second Nakba!
‘It often seems foreign policy in Britain is dictated by that embassy over there. This past week I’ve put an amendment down to the King’s Speech and the SNP has done the same, calling for a ceasefire now. It’s due to be voted on in Parliament on Wednesday.’
Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the NEU teachers union, said: ‘More than 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza, more than 4,500 children, 1,500 children have been buried under the rubble. Schools and hospitals have been bombed. Israel is waging a war against civilians, a war against children, a war crime.
‘We’ve got a Home Secretary of hate, a lawyer who attacks the right to protest, who attacks the homeless. We need the tanks to leave Gaza and all of Palestine. End the occupation once and for all.’
Chairman of Friends of Al-Aqsa, Ismail Patel, said: ‘On Armistice Day we demand an armistice. Ceasefire now. Israel has killed 320 people a day. Israel, stop your genocide! We say to Braverman, the only thing we hate is collective punishment, the only thing we hate is killing children, the only thing we hate is genocide. Ceasefire now!’
Feras Shamalla said: ‘I’m an 11-year-old Palestinian child. It saddens me to stand here today to tell you that killing people is wrong. I lost my cousin Yasin who was 10 years old. I used to play with him last year when I was in Gaza. I want to live long enough to witness a free Palestine.’
Next speaker was Rafeef Ziadah, Palestinian poet, famous for her poem ‘We Teach Life, Sir,’ who said: ‘I’m a third generation refugee. It is not just the deaths, it is also the live-changing injuries that are devastating the people of Gaza. The people of Gaza have lifted the world on their shoulders for a month now.
‘This brutality should never be allowed to take place. Starmer’s Labour Party thought they could become the government by being the most boring opposition in history, but today they are cheering on genocide and they will never be forgiven.
‘Free, free Palestine! Let them hear you in Gaza, Free, free Palestine! In Britain, 28 campuses walked out. I call on my own union, the UCU, let’s walk out! In other countries, they are stopping the arms being moved. Let your voices be heard! Let them hear you in Gaza, free, free Palestine!’
Actress and Equity member Maxine Peake said: ‘I don’t know how I can articulate how I feel now. I don’t see hate here, I see love.’
She read a poem from Gaza: ‘Where is my mum?, a little girl screams. Where is my dad? Make me Superman during these massacres. The only thing I’ll do is intercept the shells before they kill the people of Gaza.’
Faris Tamimi, from the Palestinian Forum of Britain, said: ‘It is Rishi Sunak and Braverman who dishonour the dead, while we are marching for peace. I’m holding a key symbolising the heart and soul of the Palestinian struggle, the Nakba. The true intent of Zionism is to get rid of Palestinians in Gaza into the Sinai and Palestinians in the West Bank into Jordan.
‘But they will fail, we will return and not in five generations and not in three generations. It will be in this generation. We will see a free Palestine. I want them to hear in this every capital of western hypocrisy. Ceasefire Now, Ceasefire Now!’
Emily Stephenson of Na’Amod, said: ‘The developing news out of Gaza is incomprehensible, we’re horrified at the genocide not at the word, but the act itself. We demand freedom and justice for everyone living in between the river and the sea. The Jewish bloc on the march today has been over 1,000. We’re not here despite being Jewish, we’re here because we’re Jewish. We say ceasefire now! If not now, when?’
Jess Barnard, Labour Party NEC member, said: ‘Around the country and around the world workers are responding to the call for action for Palestine. 1,200 workers in Barcelona refused to allow a boat bound for Israel to leave the dock. Every single union in India, representing 100 million workers, have demanded the country break the agreement with Israel. Hundreds of trade unionists here in Britain are fighting to stop the shipment of arms to Israel.
‘Our political leaders are failing us. Keir Starmer should be ashamed of supporting the hell that is being unleashed on the people of Gaza and the children of Gaza. We can and we must interrupt and disrupt the production and shipment of weapons to Israel. We can and must build a free Palestine.’
Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said: ‘I was in Coventry on Thursday and the main discussion was about getting the coaches to come here today and that conversation took place all around the country. Hundreds of thousands are here today supporting Palestine. Braverman and Sunak tried to stop this march but they failed.
‘All over the world workers are rising in support of Gaza. A ship bound for Israel was stopped in Sydney by Australian dockers and trade unionists. Al Jazeera live streams from Gaza and shows the truth of what’s happening every day. The people of Gaza are the refugees of yesterday. Let’s send solidarity to those demonstrating all around the world today.
‘Think of the children dying who will never see another summer. We say no, absolutely no. Instead of sending weapons to Israel, let us send hospital ships to Palestine. The horror story of the last month has united people in understanding what the Palestinian struggle is all about. Next week there will be a vote on a ceasefire in the House of Commons. Tell your MP to vote in support of the ceasefire. We are not going away, we are not abandoning the Palestinian people.’
Final speaker was Ben Jamal, director of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, who said: ‘You have been told you are hate merchants and racists. But the people who have been telling you this are the ones who are supporting Israel’s genocide.
‘We know the values of the Bravermans, the Sunaks and the Starmers of this world, the supporters of Israeli genocide. They support the dehumanising of Palestinians. The Israeli defence minister says Palestinians are in human animals. Braverman dehumanises those seeking asylum and those sleeping rough. We know who the hateful people are, who the racists are. We will not tolerate our government’s complicity with mass killings.
‘Next Saturday, we are holding a Day of Action for Palestine in towns and cities all over the country. Soon after that we will march again. We will tell you where and we will tell you when we will hold another march.
‘We will not stop marching until there is a Free, Free Palestine!’