On the 300,000-strong Palestine demonstration in central London last Saturday (Picture: Guy Smallman)

‘People are waking up’

The temporary halt in the fighting is not the justice the Palestinians need. There have been 75 years of oppression, the siege of Gaza, the repeated assaults—what the Israelis have called “mowing the lawn”. None of that has come to an end. Apartheid is still in place.

Today there might not be bombing, but it could start again very soon. This is a matter of justice for the Palestinians and about an end to their oppression. The demonstrations and other solidarity actions mean people are waking up. We need to increase the pressure.

And we need to tackle a media that shows only one side of what is happening. I think two states can be a solution, but it must be up to the Palestinians to decide these questions. They have been denied democracy and their own voice for far too long and this has to come to an end. We have to keep making the solidarity movement bigger.

Reshna

‘Government doesn’t represent me’

I come from a small, very white town. That can make it quite hard to speak out about Palestine. I wanted to come to London to express myself. I want to say that this government doesn’t speak for me—it’s contributing to the slaughter of Palestinian people. I want the world to know that Britain isn’t all like them.

Laila from Peterborough on her first protest. She spent three days making her own placard for it

‘We need a new Arab Spring’

I want our protests to be heard in the Middle East. And I want them to spur on the resistance there. But what I want more than anything is a new Arab Spring across the whole region to help liberate Palestine. I lived in Egypt during the 2011 uprising, and that’s when I became politically active.

I learnt something important that year—it is only the workers and the poor that really want change. The middle classes want to keep things as they are. I found this out by looking at my own family’s responses to the rising. I want our demonstrations to inspire people back there, and to create a space for all the anger that there is about Palestine.

Leyla, a delivery driver from Ipswich who has organised local protests

‘On the right side of history’

Zina

This is about humanity. It’s about being on the right side of history. People across the world are seeing what’s really happening in Palestine. 

A free Palestine means all our grandparents should be able to return to their lands and homes. We will not stop until there’s a proper ceasefire. Four days of no bombs isn’t a ceasefire.

We want Israel out of Palestine. We’ll keep marching and fighting for this until the very end.

Zina

‘A pause is not enough for my family’

A temporary pause will not really stop the suffering of my family in Gaza. We’ve talked to the children. They don’t understand what’s happening. How could they? They won’t understand why the bombing has stopped, but will only stop for days. Doctors in Gaza must feel so powerless.

They might get to patch people up while the bombing has stopped, yet soon after, their patients could be killed by more bombs. I’m with the Palestinian resistance. In Gaza they have been held under an illegal siege for years. They have been denied medical aid, starved, killed and imprisoned. That they are still fighting is inspirational. We need to be with them, but we need to keep fighting here too.

Theresa, whose family lives in Gaza

‘End the occupation’

For me, a ceasefire means much more than just stopping the bombing. It means an end to the occupation and an end to apartheid. If occupation and apartheid had been your whole life, you would want to fight back. I understand why the resistance in Palestine is doing what it’s doing. I don’t feel like any politicians in Britain represent Palestinians.

Omar, originally from Palestine

‘There must be justice’

Mehmet

Demonstration matter because they show which side you are on. We have to be on the side of justice and equality for the Palestinians. Israel does not dare to fight Hamas head-on.

Instead it attacks children and destroys houses and hospitals. The support for the Palestinians is having an effect. The last few weeks have changed the debate around Israel and Palestine. It is hard to see the way forward, but there must be justice.

Perhaps that means a Palestinian state and an Israeli one, but not one that oppresses the Palestinians. More people must choose a side and support Palestine. The demonstrations must continue and I think many more people have learned about the history and politics of Palestine since 7 October. Education and learning matter because they can lead to action. And tell politicians that they cannot ignore this humanitarian question.

Mehmet 

‘It must be a single state’

Israel has not been able to defeat Hamas so far. I am marching today in the hope that the Zionists’ plans will be frustrated. The release of Palestinian hostages is a reason to be happy, and it would not have happened without Palestinian resistance. But the other Arab governments should be fighting alongside the Palestinians. If that happened it would be very difficult for Zionism to survive.

We can’t be sure how deep the differences are between Netanyahu and Biden, but all such divisions are helpful to those who fight imperialism. The demonstration today can put more pressure on them. I think the resistance of the Palestinians will overcome the Israeli state. It will be very hard, but as in other colonial countries, the sacrifice and steadfastness of the oppressed wins out in the end.

This is a bitter process with many martyrs, but Palestine will win. Of course it must be a single state. So long as a Zionist state exists with the support of the US and others then it will prevent justice for the Palestinians. Two states is a lie. It will be Israel and slaves.

Aziz, from west London

‘It’s about colonialism’

I’ve never been on a demo before. I didn’t know much about it until the 7 October attack, which I felt very sad about. But after, I wanted to see the other side of the argument. And once I saw it, I became really angry about the way the news presents the issue. I can’t even watch the BBC now. For me, this struggle is all about colonialism.

Megan, a copy editor from the Midlands

This conflict is never going to end with a negotiated settlement. There simply can’t be a solution without an end to the Israeli occupation. I think there has to be one state where everyone lives together, irrespective of religion.

Mark, university worker

‘We’re being ignored by Labour’

Amy

I remember the Iraq War protest from when I was a child. I also remember being so disappointed in the Labour Party and how they still went to war. Today they are doing the same thing.

We’re being ignored by Starmer and Labour. I don’t think I could vote Labour again. I’ll vote for the Green Party instead.

We need to have bigger protests, blockades, die-ins and strikes. People are scared that they could be punished, but if we all do it, they can’t punish us all.

Amy

‘Starmer is a disgrace’

We need to stand shoulder to shoulder with Palestinians so they know they’re not on their own. This struggle is international and global. It’s an insult that Keir Starmer is ignoring a genocide, especially to workers and unions affiliated to Labour. He’s lost so many supporters because he’s not just been silent, but been behind Israel. It’s a disgrace.

Amber, an NEU union member

‘No one trusts Labour’

There’s lots of disappointment in the Labour Party. I was born here and my parents came to Britain in the 1960s. For lots of people who are now second and third generation migrants, Labour was the party they trusted. But I don’t know anyone who trusts them now with Starmer as leader.

Fiaz

‘Starmer is a disgrace’

The pause isn’t a ceasefire at all, it’s tactical for the state and it’s cruel on the Palestinians who need a real ceasefire. I definitely won’t be voting Labour and I know loads of people who won’t as well. Unfortunately I haven’t heard of the trade unions doing anything. But this new movement for Palestine has mobilised me to stand up against injustice all over the world.

Rafiyah, health worker in Nottingham

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