Healthcare workers for Palestine rally outisde Downing Street in London (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Protests for Palestine on Saturday were full of rage over Israeli crimes. But most were the smallest ones since 7 October—and there is a real danger the mobilisations stop for weeks over Christmas and New Year.

One of the biggest protests was in Birmingham where more than 3,000 marched. “The anger over the Israel genocide has not gone away. We can’t have a lull in being on the streets,” said one protester.

The march included union banners from Unison and the UCU. In Bristol 800 took to the streets. Barclays bank shut its door for fear of an occupation over the bank’s involvement with arms companies that sell to Israel.

“Around 500 people rallied on the steps of Hackney Town Hall in east London,” reports Mike. “The event was focused on a series of music and poetry performances, led by Palestinian artists. This was followed by a march to Dalston for more performances. 

“Saturday’s event follows a highly successful Assembly in the borough, where activists, Stop the War and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign agreed to step up the campaign ahead of the next national demo. It also follows a powerful vigil by health workers at  the local Homerton hospital.”

The south London demonstration marched to join a health workers’ protest at St Thomas’ hospital.

Around 200 people gathered outside Tower Hamlets town hall, also in east London. Sophia, originally from Paris, told Socialist Worker that she was on holiday and saw the protest from her hotel window. “I had to join,” she said.

“In France they have tried to ban protests, but politicians aren’t listening yet so we need to make protests even bigger.” 

Local Labour MP Apsana Begum told the protest the government must call a ceasefire and stop arms to Israel.

Other speakers denounced the complicity of the Labour Party including the Labour MP Rushanara Ali, who abstained on the ceasefire vote. There were big boos from the crowd when her name was mentioned.

Protesters marched through Tower Hamlets to near Bethnal Green Station. Education worker Tahsin told Socialist Worker that she is still shocked when she turns on the news. “I watched the video of the Israeli forces blowing up a school and then laughing about it,” she said. “That horrified me. It made it clear to me I have to do more.

“I attended the demonstration against the Israeli ambassador’s visit at the Royal Society of Art on Thursday. We need more militancy now. We need to shut down the arms factories.

At least 600 joined an angry  march and rally in Oxford with Jeremy Corbyn, ex Labour councillors and trade unionists. There were 130 in Norwich, over 100 in Ipswich and 75 in Weymouth.

Glasgow protesters gathered outside the offices of Tory MSPs who had voted against a ceasefire in the Scottish parliament.

In Hastings around 60 protested. Councillor John Cannan, who is one of a group of seven Hastings councillors who have left Labour, told a rally, “Foreign affairs are complicated but sometimes it’s a simple matter of right and wrong. 

“What happened on 7 October was wrong, Israel’s response is wrong, war crimes that Israel continues to perpetrate are wrong.” 

He went on to attack the US and the Tories and added, “His Majesty’s Opposition does not represent Labour values. The failure to call for a ceasefire is set on making the UK complicit in genocide. Shame on you Keir Starmer.”

Maya Evans, another of the Hastings Independents group said, “I feel so liberated not to be in the Labour Party,  It was so painful to watch the news and not be able to say to the Palestinians we are on your side.” 

In Chesterfield, James reports, “Great solidarity event outside the hospital. Around 80 attending with health workers reading out the names of medics killed in Gaza.”

Around 50 marched in Plymouth, 230 in Derby, 250 in Tottenham and about 200 in Walthamstow where “primary school children led the march to the town square and back. They were excellent,” reports Esther.

Palestine campaigners need to stay active. They need to take the message of rage and defiance to the government and the Labour leaders. Let’s show solidarity with the Palestine struggle and build for the next national demonstration.

Next national demonstration, Saturday 13 January, 12 noon, London.
Stop the War London Activists’ Meeting,  Monday 8 January, 6:30pm, Mander Hall, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London, WC1H 9BD 

Detainee deaths underline the reality of Israeli killings

Israeli forces on Friday killed three people detained by Hamas in Gaza. They were waving a  makeshift white flag.

The Israeli military says the incident breached guidelines. In fact it is entirely in keeping with a genocidal force that is blasting at everything in its path. Usually that is Palestinian civilians. This time it was the detainees.

The Israeli military told the New York Times that its soldiers had been operating in Shejaiya, an area of Gaza City that has seen intense fighting. This is quite contrary to Israeli claims that Hamas has been driven from northern Gaza.

The Israeli soldiers were fearful of Hamas ambushes. On Friday the three detainees emerged, shirtless, from a building tens of yards away from the Israeli soldiers, bearing a stick with a white cloth.

One of the soldiers opened fire on the detainees, killing two of them and wounding the third. The third fled into the building, from which a cry in Hebrew for help could be heard. The wounded detainee later re-emerged, after which Israeli troops shot and killed him.

Relatives of the detainees protested in Tel Aviv on Saturday. One said, “Only corpses come back from Gaza and there has to be a ceasefire because we want to see our hostages alive.”

Israel uses starvation as a weapon of war

The World Food Programme reports that 44 percent of households in Gaza are suffering from “severe hunger”. This is compared to 24 percent in a previous assessment conducted between 27 and 30 November by the same organisation.

The proportion of households reporting members going to sleep hungry increased from 34 percent to 50 percent.

The food security situation in the northern governorates of Gaza is believed to be significantly worse, the UN agency said.

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