‘We will not vote for those who normalise massacres’

Hundreds of thousands protest across Britain demanding end to Gaza bloodshed

Jun 9, 2024

OVER the weekend, hundreds of thousands of people flooded Britain’s streets, calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and warning political parties to stop arming Israel if they expect support in the upcoming election.

On Saturday, over 150,000 gathered in London for the 15th national march for Palestine.

The march took place as Israel carried out a murderous assault on Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza.

Israeli forces killed at least 274 Palestinians and injured 698 more, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

Four Israeli captives were freed during the raid.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ignored the horrific death toll, instead describing the release of the captives as a “huge relief.”

Two days before, an Israeli air strike hit a UN school, murdering 33 people, including nine children.

Speaking at the rally, Palestine Solidarity Campaign director Ben Jamal accused political leaders of having “normalised massacres.”

He said: “Now our political leaders are coming before you asking for your vote. Your answer needs to be clear.

“We will not vote for those who normalise massacres.

“We will not vote for those who greenlight genocide.

“We will not vote for those who collaborate with systems of apartheid.”

He emphasised that justice for Palestinians needs to be forced onto the election agenda like never before.

Lindsey German from Stop the War said the massive demonstration, which stretched along Whitehall, sent “the loudest possible message to our politicians that the public support an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in Gaza.”

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Protesters gathered not only from around the country but from across the world.

Marilyn Garson, who was in London for the International Jewish Collective for Justice in Palestine (IJCJP) congress, had travelled all the way from New Zealand.

The Alternative Jewish Voices co-founder described the protest as “an endless, friendly, connected stream of people of approval and purpose.”

Jewish Voice for Labour’s Jenny Manson said the march showed an “extraordinary camaraderie between all communities.”

“Labour and the mainstream media refused to recognise the inside story of Labour revealed by The Labour Files on Al Jazeera.

“Yesterday though I was stopped several times by Muslim colleagues who had remembered the experience I and others described in the film about being the wrong sort of Jew in today’s Labour — Jews who support Palestinian rights.”

In Sheffield, hundreds joined in a mass sing-along and waved Palestinian flags as a choir sang South African anti-apartheid song Freedom Is Coming at the annual Street Choir Festival.

Thousands also gathered in Manchester and marched through the city from St Peter’s Square.

North of the border in Edinburgh, “Swifties for Palestine” hung up a Palestine flag over Roseburn Bridge, near Murrayfield Stadium where pop star Taylor Swift was due to play that evening.

Students at the University of Aberdeen’s solidarity encampment celebrated their campaign’s success after its senior faculty released a statement calling for an immediate ceasefire and committing to review its financial dealings into the arms sector and companies that are complicit in illegal settlements in Palestine.

The students had received trade union support including from the Unite Bilfinger Offshore Fabric maintenance workers branch who had donated food and water.

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Campaigners from Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign rallied outside Barclays branches in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Protesters are calling for a boycott against the bank, which holds over £2 billion in shares and provides £6.1bn in loans and underwriting to nine companies known to be producing weapons and military technology used by Israel.

Tommy Campbell, a retired regional officer for Unite, co-chaired the protest in Aberdeen.

He said: “I was active 40 years ago in the anti-apartheid movement, and we defeated Barclays then in terms of apartheid in South Africa that they had to withdraw their funding and we will win again.

“The worldwide movement will defeat Barclays again in terms of their inhumanity and their support for war crimes in Gaza.

“We are not going to go away until we see justice for the Palestinian people.”

At Aberdeen’s Nuart arts festival over the weekend, a mural was unveiled by Cairo-based artist Bahia Shebab, quoting the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, reading: “Bear witness that I am free and alive.”

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