Pro-Palestinian demonstrators rally in France, Britain

AFP , Saturday 18 Nov 2023

Thousands of protesters took part in rallies across France and Britain on Saturday calling for a ceasefire as Israel pushes forward with its brutal air and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Palestine protests
A woman holds a Palestinian flag during a pro-Palestinian rally, in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023. AP


Several thousand people marched through central Paris, in torrential rain, behind a banner proclaiming "Halt the massacre in Gaza and West Bank, immediate ceasefire".

"France must immediately call for a ceasefire so that the guns go silent," said CGT union secretary general Sophie Binet, one of several union leaders to speak at the rally.

Rallies were held in dozens of towns across France, Binet added.

In Marseille, AFP saw several hundred people stage a minute's silence for Palestinian victims of the war. In Toulouse, more than 1,200 people took part in a march, according to police.

Rallies have been held across Europe as Israel rains down bombardment on overcrowded hospitals, civilian-packed schools, and even places of worship.

The Gaza health ministry says that more than 12,000 people have died in Israel's invasion of the Palestinian territory, many of them women and children.

Last Saturday saw more than 300,000 people stage a pro-Palestinian march in London. Smaller protests were held this week with one targeting an office where main opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer holds meetings.

Protesters there waved Palestinian flags and chanted "Ceasefire now".

Some held placards reading "Stop the war in Gaza" and "Starmer -- blood on your hands" amid a heavy police presence in the Camden area of north London.

"We here to basically put pressure on the UK government, and on Keir Starmer specifically as the leader of the Labour Party to pressure the Israeli government for a ceasefire," said Aziz, a 26-year-old consultant originally from Jordan.

Starmer -- whose party is predicted to win an election expected next year -- has refused to call for a permanent ceasefire, sparking a string of resignations from his top team.

Instead, the former human rights lawyer has called for a humanitarian pause to Israel's bombardment to allow aid in for the 2.4 million population.

One protester at the London event, Nicoleta, 36, held a placard reading "Bombing hospitals is a crime".

"Because I'm a health care provider I'm here to defend the hospitals, the innocent civilians, the children in incubators," she said.

"We need a ceasefire and need peace negotiations and an end to the occupation," she added.

The rally was one of many smaller protests organised nationwide by the Stop The War Coalition.

London police said on Saturday they had arrested 386 people in rallies since the beginning of Israel's war on 7 October.

On the 43rd day of the war, Israel ordered displaced Palestinians in Khan Younis, in the south of Gaza, to again relocate, this time to the west, while Israeli troops ordered the evacuation of Al-Shifa hospital in the north.

During the night, Israeli warplanes bombarded areas north and south of Gaza City, killing at least 80 people in densely populated Jabalia and 26 others in Khan Younis.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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