Thousands of people took to the streets in Central London today to protest Israel’s recent actions against the Gaza Strip and to stand in solidarity with Palestine.
This comes during an intense aerial bombardment campaign by Israel in retaliation to rocket attacks launched by Hamas from the Gaza strip. Hamas has claimed the initial rocket fire was in response to Israeli provocation.
The protest began near the Marble Arch by Hyde Park. Protesters made their way to the Israeli Embassy to hear from speakers such as the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK Husam Zomlot and ex-Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Mr. Zomlot, during an impassioned speech, said: “We have had enough of oppression, of apartheid, of ethnic cleansing. We have had enough of settler colonialism. We have had it.”
He continued to say that 1948 Palestine would live on, referring to the war in what was British Palestine between several Arab armies and Jewish forces which resulted in the formation of the state of Israel.
Today marks the anniversary of what is known as the Nakba, literally disaster or catastrophe in Arabic. It marks the day after May 14, 1948, the date the British Mandate in Palestine ended and Israel was formed.
Protesters waved Palestinian flags, set off smoke flares and chanted: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” referring to the river Jordan upon which the occupied Palestinian enclave the West Bank sits.
Organisers claimed the protest numbered more than 100,000 people, although this could not be verified.
Today’s protests came as the Israeli Defense Force and Hamas continue to fire ordinance to and from the Gaza Strip. Palestinians Health Authorities have claimed 145 dead while Israel has reported 10 fatalities.
In addition, Israel today targeted a building housing the offices of both Al Jazeera and the Associated Press, giving the staff an hour’s notice to vacate the building before demolishing it with an airstrike.
Al Jazeera has responded that they will do everything in their power to hold Israel to account while Associated Press President and CEO Gary Pruitt said: “We are shocked and horrified the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP bureau and other news organizations in Gaza.”
It is feared that the conflict will escalate quickly to levels not seen since 2014 when IDF ground forces entered the Gaza Strip. Over 2200 Palestinians and 72 Israelis were killed during the 50-day operation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously said the current operation would take more time to be completed.