‘We will return!’

Demonstrators outside parliament commemorate the 60th anniversary of the ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe) and demand freedom for Palestine and the lifting of the siege of Gaza
Demonstrators outside parliament commemorate the 60th anniversary of the ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe) and demand freedom for Palestine and the lifting of the siege of Gaza

‘Free Palestine!’ shouted over 800 protesters at a Nakba (Catastrophe) Day demonstration opposite Downing Street on Saturday.

The protestors insisted that Palestinian refugees must have the right to return.

Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union chair Hugh Lanning was one of a delegation which handed in a letter to prime minister Cameron.

Lanning told News Line: ‘We wanted to draw attention that 15 May was when Palestinians were driven out of their land.

‘We decided to present to whoever the new government was our demands – that they obey international laws, that the occupation is illegal and must be ended along with the siege of Gaza.

‘We’re worried about the threat to international jurisdiction that enables us to hold war criminals to account in this country.

‘The last government tried to change the law.

‘The Liberal Democrats said they support us to keep the right to arrest war criminals here.

‘We want to keep them to their promises.

‘We also want to hold the Liberal Democrats to account on the pledge over settlements and the Wall.

‘In our view, it doesn’t matter which government is in, the injustice of Palestine is still there and needs to be put right.

‘The PCS initiated the campaign for a boycott, disinvestment and sanctions against Israel.

‘We also have a campaign with the TUC for a ban on settlement goods.

‘We will continue to campaign for justice for Palestinians.

‘We suspect the Palestinians need our support more than ever with the new government that’s in.’

Syrian student Wisam El-Hamoui said: ‘We’re here for Palestine.

‘We support the Palestinians. It’s ridiculous, all the world can see what is going on and no-one responds properly.

‘Governments don’t respond and the media is covering it in a ridiculous way.

‘The media is broadcasting that the Palestinians are terrorists and Israel is a democracy.

‘It ignores all that happened in Gaza, and says nothing about the siege.

‘They make out people in the Middle East like killing each other but what we want is peace.

‘Workers in Britain and America should take action and boycott Israel.

‘They should take responsibility for respecting human rights.’

Nineteen-year-old Memmi Rasmussen added: ‘I’ve just come back from the West Bank where I was volunteering and living in one of the refugee camps.

‘The life there is very hard. It places a distance between you and even other Palestinians who live in the West Bank.

‘I was there for two and a half months, living with different families, and was impressed by how reasonable people were.

‘I went to Hebron. It’s a difficult situation there because the settlers have encroached on the centre of the city.

‘They throw stones, rubbish, and buckets at the Palestinians.

‘One child had his eyes damaged by chlorine.

‘I’m here today on behalf of the friends that I made because their voices are not heard.

‘I want to see the end of the occupation.

‘Workers in the West should boycott Israel, especially settler goods.’

Lebanese Mohammed Kozbar, working in the UK, said: ‘We are here to send a message to the new government that this issue is not forgotten.

‘Our demand is to give the Palestinian issue priority, to give justice to the Palestinian people by ending the occupation of their lands and lifting the siege on Gaza.

‘The unions in Britain should boycott Israeli goods.

‘We are quite glad to see how many people from different communities are here at this demonstration.

‘We want to continue the dialogue, particularly with the trade unions to make sure they take part in this and carry out initiatives.’