By Nick Clark
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2805

Rage at Israeli apartheid hits streets of London

The mass march came after the Israeli murder of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh—and a police assault on her funeral
Issue 2805
Bif free Palestine demp woht Palestine flags and placards such as "Freedom for Palestine"

Protesters demand ‘Free Palestine’ in London on Saturday (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Israel’s murder of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh injected fresh anger into a national demonstration for Palestine in central London on Saturday.
 
At least 15,000 people joined the march, called by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). It came a day after Israeli cops attacked mourners on Shireen’s funeral procession in Jerusalem—and three days after soldiers murdered her.
 
Marchers chanted “no justice, no peace” and “Shireen was a journalist, murdered by a terrorist,” while placards bearing her face dotted the march. An Israeli sniper shot Shireen in the head as she reported on a raid on a Palestinian refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. And on Friday, Israeli cops attacked her funeral procession in Jerusalem in an attempt to stop people marching and carrying Palestinian flags.
 
Many people on the march in London said Shireen’s killing was a deliberate attempt by Israel to hide the truth of the occupation.
 
One marcher, Nina, told Socialist Worker, “What they did to Shireen was awful, and what they did to her funeral was even worse—in full view of cameras. Israel seems to have so much impunity and is never held to account. That’s why we have to march to express our solidarity and do what we can to support the Palestinian people.”
 
But Zaher Birawi of the Palestine Forum in Britain told the march that Shireen’s killing had exposed the reality of Israel’s occupation to the world. “Thank you Shireen for exposing the occupation,” he said. “Her last report from the occupied territories and her funeral was the most effective and most influential report. It was her most influential report because she wrote it with her blood. You Shireen, your blood has exposed the occupation, its racist, terrorist army.”
 
Protesters on the march also said Shireen’s killing was just one example of Israel’s occupation. One, Dan, told Socialist Worker, “The murder—and the attack on her funeral. It feels like everything has intensified over the past couple of years. Like Israel is out of control.”
 
Others asked how governments in the West keep supporting Israel despite its crimes. As Maher said, “Israel is very powerful because it has the support of the US and the British government. But we can boycott Israel and demand the government stops selling it the weapons it uses to murder Palestinians.”
 
PSC chair Kamel Hawwash told the rally, “My message to the UK government is why do you keep normal relations with Israel? Boris Johnson doesn’t think Israel should face trial at the International Criminal Court. Why? Israel has committed war crimes?”
 
He linked Britain’s support for Israel to its role in creating the state in 1948—when 850,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes. He said that Britain had placed 6,000 sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, but “not a single sanction on Israel 74 years since they created it.” 
 
Saturday’s march was called to mark the anniversary of Israel’s creation, which Palestinians call the Nakba, or catastrophe. Some protesters described how their families had been forced to flee by Israel’s forces in 1948. Suleiman told Socialist Worker, “I’m Jordanian-Palestinian. All my life I’ve been hearing about how part of my family had to leave their homes.
 
He added, “The Palestinian resistance is inspiring, but we can also feel hopeless because the US and Britain keep supporting the Zionist, apartheid state Israel. But I’ve been involved in Palestine solidarity activism for 11 years—and it also feels like solidarity with Palestine is growing because people can see what’s happening.”
 
Palestinian researcher Jenin Hourani linked Israel’s regime—its occupation, its evictions of Palestinian families, and demolition of their villages—to the Nakba.
 
“They destroy our homes and villages, they erase our history,” she said. “My grandfather’s village was completely erased in 1948. Over 400 Palestinian villages were erased in 1948.”
 
But, she added, “The Nakba is ongoing and we are still here. It’s true that the Nakba isn’t over but neither is our resistance. We will not rest until Palestine is free from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean sea.”

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