‘we Must End Gaza Blockade!’

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A section of the over 2,000-strong picket of the Israeli embassy in London last night to mark the first anniversary of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza
A section of the over 2,000-strong picket of the Israeli embassy in London last night to mark the first anniversary of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza

‘In our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians,’ rang out at the mass demonstration of thousands of mainly young people opposite the Israeli embassy in London yesterday.

‘Free Gaza Now! Free Gaza Now!’ they chanted.

The demonstration was called to mark the first anniversary of the launch of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, which left 1,400 Palestinians dead, including hundreds of children, and over 50,000 wounded.

Manuel Hassassian, Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, told News Line: ‘This is a commemoration of a massacre that took place a year ago.

‘And still the massacre is going on, with the total blockade and the Israeli siege of 1.5 million Palestinians.

‘When is Israel going to be subject to international law?

‘We demand the release of Palestinian prisoners, the lifting of the siege, and the restoration of our human rights.’

Dr Mariam Abu Dagga brought greetings from Gaza.

Battersea Labour MP Martin Linton also spoke to the demonstration, as did Liberal Democrat peer Jenny Tonge, who told News Line: ‘I have spent the last five years of my political career trying to make the government face the truth of what is happening in Palestine.

‘It is not just dangerous for the Palestinians, but the whole world.’

Omar Miechalec from France told News Line: ‘We are here in solidarity with the people of Gaza against the injustice of the siege, the suffering of the people, and the breaking of international law.

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‘The trade unions should take action from all the countries of the world to end the siege of Gaza, organise a comprehensive boycott of Israel, and all the allies of Israel.’

Valois el-Khalaf, a student, said: ‘I am here to stand with Gaza. It is the least I can do.

‘I was here throughout the Israeli bombardment one year ago.

‘I was always here every day.

‘And I will continue to come to every protest.

‘Now no food, no supplies, no medicine can enter Gaza.

‘Egypt, which is meant to be helping Palestine, is in fact helping Israel.

‘We need the trade unions and the students unions to act.’

London Eastern Region Unite branch chairman Jim Kelly was holding the Ford Dagenham banner.

He told News Line: ‘We were on the march twelve months ago against the incursion by the Israeli military.

‘Now we are here against the blockade, which has got much worse over the last twelve months.

‘It’s ongoing, still depriving the people of basic necessities.

‘People aren’t free to move around.

‘I believe that even Egypt is increasing the blockade, by not letting the Viva Palestina convoy of medical and other aid into Gaza.

‘London Eastern Region of Unite has just pledged £1,500 for medical aid for Palestinians, and will continue supporting the Palestinian people.’

Ahmed Zaabar said: ‘The unions in Britain are a real force, they have been supporters of the Palestinian cause for a while.

‘But the onslaught by Israel has reached such a level that I believe the unions should act more aggressively and hit Israel where it hurts.

‘By that I mean economically and financially.

‘Israel cannot survive without the financial support of Britain, France and Germany.

‘And the unions in those countries can be quite influential when they want to be.’

Hamza Ali, a 19-year-old law student at King’s College, said: ‘The Israeli bombing last year was genocide.

‘The people are still suffering from starvation, poverty, oppression, but they are still fighting and they will win.

‘Young people all over the world are inspired by the Palestinian struggle.’

Himen Hussein a zoology student at London Met University, added: ‘We’ve got to end the blockade of Gaza.

‘Israel can’t kick out every Palestinian, so they are trying to kill them all – one year ago through bombing, now through starvation.

‘The Palestinians have a right to fight back.’