Protesters flock to British capital as Israel escalates its onslaught against Gaza Strip.
About 100,000 protestors from across Britain have rallied in London to protest against Israel’s onslaught on Gaza, according to demonstration organizers Stop the War coalition.
Demonstrators of mixed ethnicities, race and color from across Britain including grandmothers and children, Jews and Muslims, began their march from Downing Street on Saturday amid bright sunshine.
Protestors chanted: “David Cameron shame on you!” and “Free Palestine!” as they marched under the watch of police officers lining the streets and hovering in helicopters in the skies above the British capital.
As the march started, about 10 members of London’s Hasidic Jewish community posed beneath a banner emblazoned with anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela’s words: “South Africans cannot feel free until the Palestinians are free.”
Stop the War rally organizer Lindsey German told the crowds: “We will demonstrate until Gaza is free,” as she stood on a stage outside the Israeli embassy.
‘Stop arms sales’
Peace activist Kate Hudson asked demonstrators: “Who actually has weapons of mass destruction?”
“Israel!” the crowds shouted back.
Member of Parliament Jeremy Corbyn declared: “The very least the UK can do is stop the arms sales to Israel.”
Another demonstrator, 28-year-old Dominic, told Anadolu Agency: “I want Israel to know that killing children is unacceptable, and that we will oppose them every step of the way.”
Police barricades prevented the marchers from reaching the Israeli embassy, where one eight-year-old boy posed on a side street with his face daubed in fake blood next to a poster stating: “Freedom for Palestine.”
The British media has come under attack for its coverage of Israel’s offensive in Gaza, with several demonstrations behind held outside BBC offices around the country over the past week amid criticism the broadcaster’s reportage of the onslaught was biased in favor of Israel.
Channel 4 Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jonathan Miller tweeted from Gaza: “This London protest pic greeted with joyous disbelief here.”
Crispian Balmer, Reuters bureau chief for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, tweeted: “Much larger protest over Gaza in London than anywhere in the Arab world.”
One marcher said, as he tweeted a picture of the crowds: “It’ll embarrass Arab countries!”
Londoner Michelle said: “We can’t let this continue, we have to stand against oppression, and it looks like tens of thousands of people think the same because just look at the massive turn out.”
‘Free Palestine’ call
Observers said the demonstration would reinforce the reputation of London as a pro-Palestinian activist base.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz said: “The British capital has indeed become the most active center of pro-Palestinian groups, especially those of the BDS (broad pro-Palestinian campaign group) strand.”
All the demonstrators had one message for Israel and the British government: “Free Palestine.”
Police said three people were arrested.
Offensive stepped up
At least 339 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,390 injured, according to Palestinian health officials, since Israel launched its offensive on 7 July with the ostensible aim of halting rocket fire from Gaza.
One Israeli has been killed as a result of Palestinian rocket fire during the same period.
The Israeli army stepped up its offensive on Thursday, sending troops into the Gaza Strip.
The ongoing offensive, dubbed “Operation Protective Edge,” is the self-proclaimed Jewish state’s third major assault on the embattled coastal enclave – which is home to 1.8 million Palestinians – in the last six years.