There have been angry demonstrations across Britain this Saturday against Israel’s horrific bombing of the Palestinians in Gaza.
By far the largest was in London, which was attended by more than 60,000 people (though the police gave an implausible estimate of 12,000).
Many people travelled to London from around the country.
A quick look at local Stop the War banners showed how far afield protesters had travelled from – they included Brent in west London, Southend, Selly Oak in Birmingham and Derby.
And there were delegations and banners from many other groups, good examples being the lecturers UCU union and Jews for Justice for Palestinians.
One demonstrator, Andrée from Southend, said it was her first demonstration. She told Socialist Worker, “The news kept saying that Hamas was sending out rockets, but it never asked why. It made me so angry. It seems like Western leaders don’t want to know.”
Sieneen, a student in Leeds, said, “The US and Israel always talk about human rights and democracy. The US and Britain used these ideas to attack Iraq and Afghanistan.
‘But there are no human rights in Gaza. Its good that there aren’t just Middle Eastern people here, because this is about human rights and that affects everyone.”
As the march surged past Downing Street many protesters hurled shoes at the gates in a symbolic echo of the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush.
Protesters were furious at the failure of Western leaders to condemn Israel. They chanted, ‘Shame on you, have my shoe.’
A rally in a packed Trafalgar Square heard speakers including Jeremy Corbyn MP, Tony Benn, comedian Alexei Sayle and singer Annie Lennox.
After the rally several thousand people set out to march on the Israeli embassy in High Street Kensington.
Police diverted them into an underpass, where they were confronted by riot police.
Chris Nineham of Stop the War, said, ‘There was absolute pandemonium and people were falling over from the force of the police attacks.
‘The police forced us to go down a tunnel where we were met by three or four ranks of riot officers who then charged at us at least three times using their riot sticks to attack people.’
One protester with his head still bleeding told Socialist Worker, “I was marching at the front in the tunnel when suddenly the riot police charged at us.
“Several people tried to get out of the way, and there were some women who were stood to the side, but the police battered them with shields.”
‘I have never seen such irresponsible behaviour by the police on a demonstration,’ said Andrew Burgin of the Stop the War Coalition, in a press release after the incident.
Still up to 5,000 people made it to the embassy in High Street Kensington where they held a noisy and angry protest.
There were demonstrations in towns and cities all over Britain.
Up to 2,500 marched through Glasgow in a young, noisy and militant protest. Speakers at the rally included Fatima Hillou, who survived the Sabra and Shatilla massacres during Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Another 1,000 marched in Edinburgh.
About 300 people joined a demonstration in Swansea that included a mock funeral with small coffins to represent the children who have died in Israel’s bombing.
There were demonstrations of at least 2,000 in both Bradford and Manchester. A 1,000 people rallied in Leeds.
Up to 500 marched through the centre of Portsmouth, distributing leaflets for the boycott Israeli goods campaign.
On the same evening as hundreds of thousands have marched in cities across the world in solidarity with the Palestinians, Israel launched a bloody ground invasion of Gaza.
Israel’s attacks have already fuelled anger among ordinary people and its latest move will only increase this. We will need further, bigger and more militant protests to end Israel’s attack on Gaza.
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