Israel-Gaza conflict: 150,000 protest in London for end to 'massacre and arms trade'

Organisers say 150,000 turned up to demonstrate in an event which also called for sanctions against Israel and a lifting of the blockade on Gaza

Natasha Culzac
Sunday 10 August 2014 14:58 BST
Protesters march down Regent Street on 9 August
Protesters march down Regent Street on 9 August (Getty)

Thousands of people opposed to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza have taken to the streets in London in a mass demonstration to try and intensify pressure on the British government.

Arranged by a compendium of anti-war campaigners and religious organisations, the march, from the BBC’s headquarters near Oxford Circus to Hyde Park, was claimed by organisers to have had as many as 150,000 in attendance.

The Met Police told The Independent that it was entirely peaceful and no arrests were made. The force would not confirm how many people it estimated had taken part.

Protesters’ travelled past the US Embassy en route to the central London park, waving “Free Palestine” placards and flags, while chanting that the Israeli offensive is a “massacre.”

Vocal opponents of Israel’s airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, including Lib Dem MP David Ward and Labour politician Jeremy Corbyn, also took part in the protests.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, one of the core organisers of the event, said in a statement yesterday that it wants the march to bring a stop to UK military and industrial collaboration with Israel.

“[The demonstration] will increase the pressure on the British Government to introduce an immediate arms embargo on the State of Israel,” it said.

A samba band entertained protesters while a number of flags made by football fans were held above the crowd.

A Jewish father told a Press Association reporter that while many of his Jewish friends were equally as outraged by the apocalyptic images emanating from the region, they were too "uncomfortable" to join the march.

Dan Rosenberg, 43, said: “It is horrific what is going on in Gaza. It is collective punishment. I don't know how any human being can stand back while this is happening.

“But it is difficult being here. We have seen the anti-Semitic attitudes [elsewhere] and you feel very threatened and scared, but we feel we have to stand up and represent.

“I have Jewish friends who wanted to come but they felt uncomfortable being here.”

A teenager described how if she was in the same situation as Palestinians, she would want the international community to stick up for her.

“People shouldn't stand by and watch an injustice. I have little brothers and sisters and if I was in that situation I would want people globally to fight for me,” Yasmin Rackal, 17, said.

Meanwhile, a similar protest in Cape Town, South Africa, today was said to be one of the biggest in its history.

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