Christian groups, including Pax Christi, Amos Trust and the Ecumenical Accompaniment programme, together with Jewish and Muslim groups, were among the 10,000 strong campaigners that marched peacefully through central London on Saturday, to demand justice for all people in the Holy Land and an end to "unprecedented attacks" against the Palestinian people by Israel.
Organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War and others, the day came a just ahead of the 71st anniversary of the Nakba (Catastrophe), in which hundreds of thousands were forcibly displaced from their homes to refugee camps in surrounding countries in 1948, when the state of Israel being created. It also comes as Donald Trump is about to unveil his 'new deal' which would effectively hand over the rest of the Palestinian Occupied territories to Israel.
Families pushing prams, people in wheelchairs, musicians and campaigners with banners calling for 'Peace', 'Free Palestine', 'End the Siege of Gaza' , 'Stop Arming Israel', took more than two hours to walk from Portland Place through Oxford Circus and Trafalgar Square to the entrance to Downing Street in Whitehall.
They heard speeches from union officials, MPs and campaigners. Richard Burgeon, the Labour MP, said: "Palestine has the right to exist but sadly that is a right that is increasingly threatened … Palestinians should be able to live free from ever expanding settlements on stolen land."
Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, Husam Zomlot, said the Palestinian people and their leaders are rejecting all that has been leaked about Trump's "deal of the century." He said the case of Palestine was not an issue of "Right' versus "Left" but a matter of "Right" and "Wrong".
There was applause as Ahed Tamimi took to the stage. The 17 year-old Palestinian girl was jailed for eight months in late 2017 after she slapped an Israeli soldier in the face when a group of soldiers trespassed on her family's property - a short time after she had heard that the soldiers had shot her young cousin in the head.
Ahed, who is in England now, studying, said: "We will not be made victims! We will continue to resist!"
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn sent a message of support on Twitter."We cannot stand by or stay silent at the continuing denial of rights and justice to the Palestinian people," Corbyn wrote.
Pat Gaffney, from Pax Christi, told ICN: "The large turn out at the Rally for Palestine indicates the on-going call to work for peace in the region. Next week marks the Nakba, what the Palestinians call the time of catastrophe when hundreds of Palestinian villages were destroyed by Israeli forces. For more than seven decades later houses are still being demolished, children are illegally detained and the people of Gaza have been under siege for 13 years. Politicians, campaign groups, church communities must engage here and globally to ensure that the peoples of Palestine and Israel can find ways together of living in peace and justice.
Emeritus Patriarch Michele Sabbah recently wrote : 'The solution is simple if Israel restores discernment,namely if it want to recognise that the Palestinian people have the same rights as the Israeli people do, all being equal in humanity'. "
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