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Hundreds of thousands across Britain join calls for a ceasefire in Gaza

HUNDREDS of thousands of people took part in rallies, marches and sit-ins across Britain over the weekend to demand a ceasefire in Gaza and against the government’s attempts to vilify pro-Palestinian action.

Protesters gathered in their London boroughs on Saturday morning for local actions before joining the large rally in Trafalgar Square.

Breakout protests also took place on surrounding roads as large numbers meant that the famous square could not fit them all.

 Ben Cowles]
People in Trafalgar Square view photographs of some of the children killed by Israeli air strikes on Gaza [Pic: Ben Cowles]


The names and ages of children killed in the past month’s bombardment of Gaza were read out as thousands in the square listened tearfully.

Protesters also gathered for a sit-in at Charing Cross station, which is near Trafalgar Square, in the evening.

Earlier in the day, 350 people staged a sit-in protest which shut down Oxford Circus.

The Metropolitan Police said that 29 people were arrested during the day for “inciting racial hatred, other racially motivated crimes, violence and assaulting a police officer.”


Protesters march past the iconic York Minster
Protesters march past the iconic York Minster


In Manchester, an estimated 20,000 people marched through the city centre while thousands occupied Piccadilly railway station and brought it to a halt.

Adie Mormech of Manchester Palestine Action said: “This is not just for the ongoing abominable genocide in Gaza where they have murdered over 9,000 people, 4,000 children and bombed hospitals, schools used as shelters, mosques, churches, densely populated refugee camps and people fleeing in convoys or ambulances.

“The massive mobilisations … are for the 75 years of Israel’s settler colonisation of Palestine, brutal occupations, ethnically cleansing Palestinians, imprisoning them and mass murdering them.

“Palestine will always stand, and we won’t stop till they’re free.”

Thousands marched and rallied in Leeds, with speakers including the city’s former Euro-MP Michael McGowan who joined Labour politicians calling for the resignation of party leader Sir Keir Starmer over his stance on a ceasefire.

He told the rally: “While Starmer has been pondering about his position, the bombing, the starvation and the mass slaughter of civilians has increased, as have the attempts to stifle discussion within the Labour Party among MPs, councillors and members.

“The only choice for Keir Starmer is to call for an urgent ceasefire or resign as leader of the Labour Party.”


Protesters call for a ceasefire in Bristol
Protesters call for a ceasefire in Bristol


In York, protesters marched past the city’s historic Minster and the city’s Labour MP Rachael Maskell defied her party’s leadership by speaking at a rally calling for a ceasefire.

The streets of Scotland, from Aberdeen to Dunfermline and Edinburgh to Glasgow, were also filled with thousands of protesters.

And Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley train stations saw hundreds gather in sit-down protests.

Protesters march through Glasgow
Protesters march through Glasgow


Protesters left Glasgow Central Station and, after a brief skirmish with a handful of local fascists, processed to the headquarters of BBC Scotland at the city’s Pacific Quay, where the rally was addressed by both SNP and Labour politicians, as well as long-time Palestine solidarity activists.

The rally held a minute’s silence, laying 100 small, bloodstained shrouds at the doorstep of the BBC in protest against its coverage of the war.


A protest in Edinburgh
A protest in Edinburgh


The crowd then marched through Govan, to the front gate of the shipyard — formerly Fairfields — owned by weapons manufacturer BAe Systems as well as the Thales arms manufacturing plant.

Speakers called on workers at both facilities to back a ceasefire and refuse to continue to arm Israel.

In Edinburgh, a two-minute silence was observed outside the First Minister’s official residence.

Welsh capital Cardiff’s protest was organised by Black Lives Matter Cardiff and Stand Up for Palestine.

At the same time as the march, a major conference was held at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff, “Acknowledging Israel’s Apartheid,” organised by PSC and Amnesty International.


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