London Protests in Solidarity with Gaza
Protestors are furious with both Israel and their own government, as the UK’s foreign office supports Israeli action
Theyâ€™re here because theyâ€™re outraged. But itâ€™s hard to tell who theyâ€™re more furious with, Israel or the British government.
The protests here are reminiscent of similar demonstrations held day after day during Israelâ€™s last major attack on Gaza. The difference this time is that the British governmentâ€™s support for Israel is even more pronounced.
And protestors say that support is in contrast to general public opinion.
Sarah Colborne, Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK
â€œThe British government knows very well what public opinion is in this country, public opinion supports Palestinian rights, it supports justice, it supports peace. It does not support what William Hague is saying.â€
William Hague, the British Foreign Minister, has laid the blame for the current Israeli bombing of Gaza, and the resulting deaths of civilians, squarely on the shoulders of Hamas.
William Hague, UK Foreign Secretary
â€œHamas bears principal responsibility for this crisis. I utterly condemn rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel by Hamas and other armed groups. This creates an intolerable situation for Israeli civilians in southern Israel which have the right to live without fear of attack from Gaza.â€
He failed to condemn Israelâ€™s attacks, which have killed children and civilians as well as members of Hamas. And protestors say both the British government and the British mainstream media have misrepresented the timeline of events to portray whatâ€™s happening as Israeli retaliation, and as a fair fight.
John Rees, Stop the War Coalition
â€œIsrael, the fourth largest military power in the world, armed and supported by the biggest military powers in the world, armed with F16s, armed with predator drones, armed with missiles, armed with tanks â€“ there is no equivalence between the Israeli state and the Palestinian resistance.â€
Jeremy Corbyn, Member of Parliament, Labour
â€œThe West are showing no respect for the Palestinian people, by the presentation of their cause on their media, by the treatment of the Palestinian people and standing idly by, while bombs rain down on those poor people in Gaza city and other places.â€
John Rees, Stop the War Coalition
â€œThis is a battle between David and Goliath, and we are on the side of David, and you, the oppressors, the exploiters, the armourers, the Tory government, you are on the side of the oppressors.â€
I asked the protesters whether they felt a sense of futility, returning to the same spot to protest another Israeli attack, while their government ignored their views.
Anas Altikriti, British Muslim Initiative
â€œThe governmentâ€™s position is waning, it has no back, it doesnâ€™t hold water. The whole world now, and it shows on the social media, the twittersphere and such, it shows that more and more people ar seeing through the lies, through the smokescreen, through the propaganda. And therefore the governmentâ€™s of the west, might as they may be, actually in terms of popular support they are on their own in this. Weâ€™re seeing Israel being more and more isolated. It may still have powerful friends in powerful places and in high offices, but on the streets, around the world, even in the media, itâ€™s haemorrhaging support. And bit-by-bit we are seeing new faces join the struggle in order to see Palestine free and dignified.â€
There have been several protests outside the Israeli embassy over the past few days. And on occasion thereâ€™s been a smaller pro-Israeli counter protest. Tensions have risen, and the two groups have been separated by the police.
But Jews are split across both sides here, and the protests in solidarity with Gaza have boasted the presence of several diverse Jewish groups, much to the annoyance of some pro-Israelis, one of whom tried to stop Jews joining the Palestine protest, and then took a swing at our camera after he failed.
And despite his efforts, Jews opposing Israelâ€™s policies are making sure their voices are heard.
Glyn Secker, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
â€œEnd the occupation, end the house demolitions, 27 thousand demolitions since 1967 – thatâ€™s over 10 a week every week for 45 years, end the settlements, establish civil rights and human rights and justice for Palestinians.â€
David Rosenberg, Jewish Socialistsâ€™ Group
â€œIsrael often claims that it has the support of Jews the world over for what itâ€™s doing, but it doesnâ€™t. It abuses sympathy of Jews the world over for Israel, when it came into being, and it abuses that to say that all Jews are behind what itâ€™s doing, and many are not. We are in touch with a number of Jewish groups around the world, who are also protesting in different ways, and one of our ways of protesting is to be here today, in solidarity with Palestinians, alongside Palestinians.â€
Similar actions have been held up and down the country. This one took place in Scotland, starting in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, and ending at the Scottish parliament. Others took to the streets, with or without cameras watching, in dozens of other towns and cities.
Back in London, the protests are set to continue as long as Israelâ€™s bombs keep falling. Hassan Ghani, for the Real News, London.