‘Victory to Palestine!’ demand hundreds of thousands on huge London march

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A section of the massive march for Victory to Palestine through London on Saturday

HUNDREDS of thousands of workers, students and youth marched on Saturday through central London, calling for victory to Palestine and an end to Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

‘We are not doing enough. We must strike for Palestine!’ a group of schoolchildren from Dagenham told the rally in Parliament Square at the end of the march.

The demonstration assembled in the City of London near the Bank of England.

There were banners from the trade unions including the UCU, the NEU, the PCS, ASLEF, the RMT, Unite, and others.

The Young Socialists banner, which declared ‘Charge Israel with War Crimes,’ had a large, lively and loud delegation behind it.

There were tens of thousands of Palestinian flags on the march as well as many home-made placards, including ‘Starmer – blood on your hands,’ ‘Not voting for a ceasefire means supporting genocide,’ ‘There are no two sides to genocide,’ Israel bombs hospitals and homes.’

As the march was assembling, Ben Clark, an analytical chemist from Nottingham, told News Line: ‘I’ve come to be part of the demonstration against Israeli genocide and the complicity of the UK government. This is the fifth march I’ve come to.

‘The Tories have to be thrown out, but Labour won’t be any better. I joined the Labour Party to support Corbyn in 2015, then I left in 2021 when they changed the leadership selection process, effectively guaranteeing a right wing leadership in the party.

‘We want a general strike. There must be a Palestinian state.’

Savithri, a teacher from north London, said: ‘I’m of Asian origin and I’m ashamed of Sunak and Braverman and their treatment of immigrants when they themselves are immigrants.

‘If we don’t stand up and stop this genocide in Gaza, Israel will just carry on with it. Britain sends Arms to Israel and Britain is profiteering from the genocide.

‘They must be stopped. We must stop Britain arming Israel.’

The march, which was led by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Stop the War Coalition, Friends of al-Aqsa and CND, set off past St Paul’s Cathedral, down Fleet Street, past the Royal Courts of Justice and then down to Victoria Embankment, up to Trafalgar Square, down Whitehall to Parliament Square.

All along the march there were loud chants of ‘From the River to the Sea Palestine will be Free,’ ‘Free, Free Palestine,’ ‘Ceasefire Now,’ ‘Stop bombing Gaza, Stop bombing Children,’ ‘One, two, three, four – Occupation no more; five, six, seven, eight – Israel is a Terrorist State!’

At the rally in Parliament Square a video message was relayed to a big screen at the front from Mustapha Barghouti in Palestine who is the leader of the Palestine National Initiative.

Mustapha Barghouti told the London rally: ‘Thank you for your support, but today we need much more of your support.

‘Israel has killed 22,000 people if you count the ones under the rubble.

‘We need you to stop arming Israel. Stop the planes they get from Britain bombing the people of Gaza. They are trying to drive people into the Sinai.

‘There must be an immediate, permanent and enforced ceasefire. Nothing will stop our struggle and we will overcome.

‘The time has come for our freedom and we will achieve it with your support.’

The first speaker was the Palestine Solidarity Campaign Chairman Kamal Hawash, who said: ‘Whitehall never looks so good as when it is full of Palestinian flags.

‘I come from Jerusalem, capital of Palestine. Palestinians in Gaza were told to go to Khan Younis for their own safety but they are being bombed even more there.

‘Israel has normalised the slaughter of children. Every day, on average Israel kills 150 children. It’s absolutely shameful that Britain abstained at the UN on Friday.’

Apsana Begum, Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, said: ‘The Gaza death toll has increased by 40% since the truce.

‘With its latest veto the US is enabling unprecedented suffering. The UK’s role in abstaining at the UN will be paid for in the deaths of Palestinian children.

‘Of the thousands of women and children wiped out, how many were killed with weapons made in Britain?

‘I say shame, shame on Britain profiting from war crimes, profiteering from killing children.

‘The slaughter must end, the illegal settlement programme must end, there must be an immediate state of Palestine.’

Lindsey German, Convener of the Stop the War Coalition, said: ‘Every single member of the UN Security Council voted for an immediate ceasefire except Great Britain, which abstained and the USA, which vetoed.

‘I remember it is the same division of labour as happened in the United Nations during apartheid in South Africa, except that then it was the USA that abstained and it was Britain that vetoed.

‘Dresden was a war crime and Gaza is a war crime. The reason resistance happens is because the Palestinians were driven off their land

‘I heard this week that school children have been referred to Prevent for wearing Palestinian badges and workers in student unions have been sacked for describing what is going on as a genocide.

‘This is clearly more targeting of our rights in Britain which have to be defended.’

There were four ‘Councillors for Gaza’ who spoke.

Sophia Naqvi from Newham Council said: ‘We stand here to raise the voices for Palestine. Israel’s relentless attacks on Gaza are an attack on all of humanity.

‘Neither Labour nor the Conservative Party are speaking for the people of Britain.

‘History will remember the UK’s complicity with ethnic cleansing and genocide in Gaza. Palestine is watching the world.’

Former Labour Councillor, now Independent Socialist Group Councillor at Haringey Council, Mary Mason said: ‘Colonial and imperialist exploits of the UK are being played out by Israel.

‘Genocide can never ever be justified – choosing to bomb hospitals and schools.

‘This is ethnic cleansing. It is time to be human stand together and say no.’

Former Kensington Labour MP and now Independent Councillor Emma Dent Coad said: ‘I am ashamed to have been in the Labour Party and I left it. This is a war of self-interest over oil and gas rights. Political leadership is coming from our streets and from our unions. End the occupation.’

South African-born Oxford city councillor Jabu Nala-Hartley said: ‘As we march and stand with Palestine we say enough is enough. Israel is a racist regime and an apartheid state.

‘Nelson Mandela said we will never be free until Palestine is free. The world is living in the state of torture. The whole world is watching.’

Jeremy Corbyn MP, ex-Labour Party leader, said: ‘Last night, was a day of global disgrace when the US voted against and GB abstained on a ceasefire at the United Nations.

‘The death-toll has surpassed 17,000, Israel is using first world weapons to slaughter people in Gaza.

‘The expulsion of the people of Gaza to the Sinai is ethnic cleansing and must be stopped.

‘The Israeli policy of genocide is only possible because of the disgusting behaviour of Western governments.

‘Settlers have been armed with 20,000 assault rifles to try to terrorise the people of the West Bank.

‘I say to my colleagues over there in Parliament shame on you! Shame on you for not voting for a ceasefire. Shame on you for supporting the genocidal arms trade.’

Actress Maxine Peake read a poem by Refaat Alareer, the famous Palestinian poet who was assassinated in an Israeli air strike on Gaza last Thursday.

She said: ‘Refaat was a learned and hopeful man. He taught his students to love life and to love literature.’

She read out his last poem, ‘If I must die’, which he wrote just a few weeks ago.

She then called for a minute’s silence for Refaat Alareer and all the Palestinians who have been killed in the Israeli genocide over last nine weeks.

The next speaker was Friends of al-Aqsa chairman Ismail Patel, who said: ‘The children of Gaza have stopped dreaming of the future because they do not know if they have a future.

‘Israel is indiscriminately killing the children of Gaza and it is our responsibility to stop this genocide. It’s up to us.’

Emily Stevenson, from Na’amod, said: ‘As a Jewish person I’m absolutely disgusted to be witnessing a very modern genocide.

‘I’m so angry that whenever a ceasefire is called it is going to be too late. Again I say that hundreds of Jewish people are here today marching in support of Palestine.’

Then schoolchildren from Dagenham came to the front and spoke about the action they have taken.

One said: ‘We held a school strike a couple of weeks ago. Almost every single school and university have been bombed in Gaza. We cannot remain silent. Our voices must be heard. What matters at the moment is that we will never let anybody silence us.

‘Instead of chanting Palestine will be free, soon we will be chanting Palestine is free!

‘We claim to stand for Palestine, but we are not doing enough. We must strike for Palestine we must hold the guilty accountable.

‘Gaza has become a children’s graveyard. 20,000 Palestinians have been murdered by Israel in just eight weeks because they want Gaza’s gas and oil.

‘Every single war criminal, including the prime minister himself, must be dragged into the International Criminal Court.’

Ujain Absulum, from the Palestine Forum in Britain said: ‘We have to use all our power to stop the genocide. When you talk about cowards we can point at those MPs in there who voted against a ceasefire. What is happening in Gaza is not complicated, it’s ethnic imperialism.’

Mustafa Deboag from from the Muslim Association of Britain said: ‘We must stand against the unfolding genocide in Gaza.

‘We are witnessing the systematic dehumanising of a people how many more must die? We need action!’

Kate Hudson, from CND said: ‘I’ve no words to express our rage, our horror.

‘When the deputy mayor of occupied Jerusalem calls Palestinians sub-human and uses biblical texts to justify wiping them out, it is clear that this is a genocidal war.

‘It is a genocidal war supported by the west. We say “no ceasefire, no vote”.

‘These MPs don’t represent us. If they won’t vote for a ceasefire we won’t vote for them in the next election. Let us build a mass movement for a world of peace and democracy.’

Lara Elborro, a lawyer from Gaza, said: ‘This is the 45th time the US has vetoed a resolution condemning Israel. The US is financing and arming the Israeli genocide. Over 200 cargo planes containing 10,000 tons of weapons have been presented to Israel from the USA.

‘The world’s governments have failed us. They are planting Israeli flags all over Gaza. The 20,000 deaths in Gaza are not collateral damage they are the targets.

‘Our beloved teacher Refaat Alareer taught us before he was assassinated a few days ago “keep talking about Palestine”.

‘The right side of history has never been more clear – Free Palestine! It’s not just a ceasefire that is required.

‘The state of Israel has no place in the civilised world. It has no right to defend itself.

‘Israel is like apartheid South Africa. It is as criminal apartheid state and it must be brought down.

‘When we say “From the River to the Sea” we know that there must be peace for Muslims, Jewish people and Christians in Palestine.’

Ibrahim Khadra, of ‘Families of Gaza’ said: ‘This is a crisis that demands immediate action. This is not a second Nakba. The first Nakba never ended. Over 20,000 have been killed in six weeks. Israel’s ultimate goal is to kill as many Palestinians as possible and destroy the infrastructure. The time for action is now.’

Jewish writer Barnaby Raine, said: ‘When Israel murdered Refaat, whose only weapon was his pen, my Judaism teaches me to shout From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free!’

The final speaker was Ben Jamal, Secretary of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who said: ‘We don’t use the words genocide loosely. We proudly chant From the River to the Sea Palestine will be Free.

‘Violence will only end when Israeli apartheid is defeated. It must end now.

‘The next national march in London will be on Saturday 13th January. Let’s make it the biggest march so far. Let’s make it the biggest march in British history for an occupation-free Palestine.’

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