By Isabel Ringrose
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Rage outside Downing Street over Israel’s mass murder in Rafah

Fires caused by Israeli bombing burned people alive in their tents in in Tal as-Sultan
a woman stands up amid the crowd at the Palestine protest over Israel's Rafah massacre

The protest outside Downing Street against the latest Rafah massacre (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Over 10,000 people protested outside Downing Street on Tuesday evening against Israel’s latest slaughter in Gaza. Palestine flags filled the street and cops couldn’t keep the crowds back from taking over the entire road. 

Protester Salama told Socialist Worker, “What’s happened at the refugee camp is atrocious. I can’t justify staying at home, or just putting posts on social media. I had to do something, even if it’s just standing here and shouting.” 

Salma says the lack of reaction from the West—from Rishi Sunak to Joe Biden—makes her feel like she’s “not in the real world”. She added that it’s clear Israel won’t stop “until the whole of Gaza has gone”. 

“Binyamin Netanyahu has been clear that he has a job to do, and that’s a job Israel and the West have been carrying out for over 100 years,” she said. “And the Arab rulers aren’t helping because they have ties with Israel.

“They’re rich and don’t think Palestinian lives are worth anything. They’re so removed from people in society they don’t know what it is to struggle—they can’t relate with people.”

Salma says the complicity of the Tories and Labour makes her “speechless”. She said with the upcoming election “the Tories have to be kicked out”. “Sunak has to go after everything he’s done, not just over Palestine but the cost of living crisis too,” she said. 

“But we have to keep protesting during the election period—and after. We have to keep going and putting the pressure on. We don’t have a choice but to keep going, especially when protests like this give those in Gaza some hope. Being silent is just as bad as supporting Israel.”

Dominique came to her second Palestine protest since 7 October because she’s “shocked” at the situation in Gaza. “I feel sad and helpless. No one in charge cares. Even if coming here doesn’t change their minds, at least we’re doing something,” she told Socialist Worker.

“And in a country like Britain, where we can protest without being stopped, we absolutely should. It’s fucked up that Israel has so much support. I’m French, and it’s the same there, just silence from those in charge. But that’s because these are the people responsible for what’s happening in the first place.

“The media is just as bad. I can’t believe the way this is still being reported—making it sound like Palestinians are the aggressors while Israel is just defending itself.”

The huge crowd chanted, “Hands off Rafah,” and, “Stop arming Israel.” Protesters continued to pour onto Whitehall even after the protest had officially finished—with many chanting and blaring music at Downing Street.

Fatima and Nasiya came to the protest with their children. “This movement has been fighting for over 76 years, and what’s happened in Rafah has spurred us on,” Fatima said. 

“But Biden says no red lie has been crossed, and instead wants to hold the ICJ and ICC to account. He’s the one that needs to be held to account.”

Nasiya the genocide “is the result of an imperialist regime”. “Israel is burning children like it doesn’t matter,” she said. “We’re from South Africa. I remember growing up at the end of the apartheid regime.

“I couldn’t go to a white bathroom. Fighting for Palestine has always been something I’ve done. I remember when Nelson Mandela was called a terrorist when he was South Africa’s leader. The rage of the oppressed is never the same as the oppressor.”

Fatima said the scenes from Gaza are “beyond dystopian”. “There’s no food or water getting in, but bombs can get in,” she said. “But people here, especially young people, have so much energy on the protests and the students. 

“They won’t ever be quiet or stop—not until there’s a ceasefire at least. But we need more than just a ceasefire.”

Nasiya added, “We have Palestinians in our family too. One of our relatives was in a hospital as Israel bombed it—not for medical help but because he hadn’t had a shower in two weeks. He only just got out alive. I always bring my children because they’re the next generation—they should never be silenced on this issue. 

“We’ve had a lot of trouble in schools, where they’re not allowed to wear carves or badges. But I’ve said if they can wear poppies and are told to be sad about Ukraine, then they can do the same for Palestine.”

The rage at the Tories, Labour, Biden and Netanyahu for their crimes in Gaza shows that the movement won’t stop demanding justice—or freedom for Palestine.

Over 350 people joined the Glasgow emergency demonstration on the same night and staged a train station occupation. 

Over 600 people joined an emergency protest at less than 24 hours’ notice in Leeds on Monday. The crowd at the Leeds student encampment heard from a newly-elected Bradford councillor, a Palestinian doctor, one of the students and a Unison union member.  

The protest was militant and angry, marched into town and briefly occupied Leeds train station. One of the students from the encampment said, “The message is all eyes on Rafah, stop the bombing, end the genocide and build the resistance for a free Palestine.” 

Alongside students, there were banners from Unison, Health Workers For Palestine West Yorkshire, Leeds trades council and Leeds Trade Unions For Palestine. 

  • Saturday 8 June, Palestine national demo. 12noon, central London  
  • Sunday 9 June, Stop The War trade union conference 10.30am-4.30pm @ ITF House, 49-60 Borough Road, London, SE1 1DR

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