|Volume 54 Number 2, February 10, 2024
MORE than 250,000 workers with their trade union banners, students and youth marched for Palestine through central London on Saturday February 3.
Actions took place worldwide on February 3 to demand an immediate ceasefire and to stop the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people. In London the national demonstration marched from the BBC in Portland Place to Whitehall. The demonstration, reflecting the sentiment of all who took part, was jointly organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Association of Britain, Palestinian Forum in Britain, and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. It condemned Britain's heinous role in backing Israeli Zionism and its complicity in Israeli forces' war crimes, and affirmed the Palestinians' right to be, and their right of return. Saturday, February 10, will also be a national day of action with actions taking part in many parts of the country.
Local actions have been taking place on practically a daily basis. Cities and towns involved included Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Brighton, Canterbury, Ramsgate, Ipswich, Newport IoW, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and many others. A #StandWithGaza Workplace Day of Action took place on Wednesday, February 7, with the support of unions including the NEU, PCS and UCU.
Student walkouts took place in Oxford, Bristol and colleges in London, and elsewhere. Events included a gathering at Victoria Tower Gardens outside Parliament organised by Parents for Palestine, which featured children's activities, a picnic, a children's press conference and speeches. A school strike took place in Glasgow, a lunchtime meeting of council workers in Portsmouth, a rally of lecturers and students at Manchester University, with similar action at the University of Suffolk and an event organised by NUJ members outside the Sheffield Star offices. In central London, civil servants and other workers joined a lunchtime demonstration in Parliament Square called by the PCS union. Media Workers for Palestine have also organised a protest and rally outside BBC Broadcasting House. There was also a trade union rally in central London on the eve of the day of action, with speakers from Unite, NEU, UCU and RMT. On January 1, a meeting highlighting how the discussion of Palestine is often censored from classrooms and general life, took place at Kings College London attended by as many as 400 people. Speakers included Prof Neve Gordon, Prof Yasmin Gunaratnam, Prof Laleh Khalili, Prof Daanish Mustafa, Dr Muna Dajani, and Dr Rafeef Ziadah, and the speakers were followed by student poetry readings.
The Stop the War Coalition in its newsletter of February 2 said:
The genocide in Gaza continues with over 27,000 people now having fallen victim to Israeli violence since Oct 7th, at least 11,500 of those children. The response of the British government this week has been to cut its funding for UNWRA - the major relief agency in Gaza and the West Bank. In the face of overwhelming humanitarian disaster such a move is nothing short of criminal.
This week has also seen further attempts by the Metropolitan Police to make draconian moves against the right to protest over these crimes. The Met tried to stop tomorrow's demonstration marching on Whitehall but they have now yielded and agreed that the march will finish in Whitehall, the seat of government. As the statement by the organisers went on to say:
Those marching for justice and peace, for over three months, have had to encounter intimidation and the imposition of repressive measures, designed to suppress support for the Palestinian people's struggle for freedom and justice.
We will not allow this to stop us marching or to distract us from our central message. On Saturday, hundreds of thousands will be marching through the centre of London to Whitehall against Israel's genocide, against the UK's complicity in that genocide, and in support of the Palestinian people's struggle for liberation.
We call for #CeasefireNow, for an end to occupation and for Israel's system of apartheid to be dismantled.
Join us on Saturday. In our thousands and our millions, we are all Palestinians.
Regarding the National Demonstration on February 17, the Stop the War Coalition writes:
Half of Gaza's population is living in Rafah - once an Israeli designated safe zone - including over 600,000 children, many without parents or family. It is the most overcrowded city in the world. The population is struggling against starvation and disease, desperately trying to stay alive.
Women and children fled to Rafah seeking refuge and now they are under attack. The civilian infrastructure is being destroyed as Israel prepares for a ground invasion. The refugees have nowhere to turn.
This attack on the last "safe haven" in Gaza comes after Netanyahu rejected outright the ceasefire proposals put forward last week. Bent on the destruction of Gaza and its people, Netanyahu is ignoring warnings from the US against attacking Rafah. An attack that can only result in a massacre of the civilian population.
We cannot stand by while this genocide is taking place before our eyes. This is why we must once again get onto the streets. We are asking all our supporters to join us on February 17 in central London and take part in a Global Day of Action, demanding an immediate ceasefire.
On February 17 millions will take to the streets across the world. We know London is as an important focal point for the international Palestine movement, so we must fill the capital's streets in our hundreds of thousands to demand a ceasefire and an end to our government's support for the murderous Netanyahu regime.
For details of the February 10 day of action, see: Day of Action for Palestine - Stop the Genocide in Gaza | Stop the War (stopwar.org.uk)
For details of the February 17 national demonstration, see: National Demonstration: Ceasefire Now - Stop the Genocide in Gaza! | Stop the War (stopwar.org.uk) National Demonstration: Ceasefire Now - Stop the Genocide in Gaza! | Stop the War (stopwar.org.uk)
Edinburgh, Scotland February 3rd (left)
Ireland, Belfast, Black Mountain (left)