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HUNDREDS of thousands of protesters again took to the streets of London and major cities across Britain on Saturday as public anger over Israel’s slaughter in Gaza showed no signs of abating.
Demands for a ceasefire echoed in London, Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow and other centres on the second day of the four-day “pause” in Israel’s attack for the release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza in exchange for Palestinians in Israeli prisons.
In London, police arrested 18 protesters and police were accused of using catch-all Section 12 regulations to make arrests in response to political pressure.
Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) director Ben Jamal said: “There has been a major political effort by pro-Israel voices, including in government, to defame the protests as hate marches.
“In response the police today imposed a ludicrous Section 12 that gave them power to arrest anyone arriving early or leaving late no matter what they were doing.”
Stop the War Coalition national officer John Rees said: “This is political policing and it’s pretty certain none of this will be applied to tomorrow’s march for Israel,” referring to today’s demonstration called by the Campaign Against Anti-semitism.
In north-west England protesters targeted branches of Barclays Bank over the bank’s financial involvement in arms firms supplying weapons to Israel.
John Nicholson of Manchester PSC said protests had shut eight branches of Barclays in Manchester, Stockport, Blackburn, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Bolton and Altrincham.
“All the banks were shut as a result of the protests,” he said. “We will continue targeting Barclays until they disinvest.
“There’s no let-up in people’s anger at what Israel is doing to Gaza.
“What’s great is that we can still stage a national demonstration in London yet have all these protests going on away from London at the same time.”
The Manchester protesters marched from Barclays to the regional offices of Fisher German, a property company which leases premises to Israeli-own arms manufacturer Elbit Systems. A further protest took place there.
Speakers at the Leeds rally reported how 300 students had walked out of the city’s university on Friday in support of Palestine.
More than 60 doctors and health workers had also demonstrated in the city’s Mandela Gardens mourning the deaths of more than 200 medical staff in Israeli attacks on hospitals.
Protests took place across Scotland including in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee.
Placards in Glasgow bore the words: “You can’t pause a genocide.”
The Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign said: “There is a pause in the genocide but the people in Gaza are suffering unimaginable horrors.
“They still need our support.”
In Leeds around 1,000 marched.
Protester Steve Johnson told the Morning Star: "Marching from City Square through the heart of Leeds it doubled in size as people joined in, filmed and clapped us.”
Palestine supporters staged a fundraiser today in the Pennine town of Todmorden in West Yorkshire before around 100 people marched to the community’s town hall for a weekly protest.
Before the hostage and prisoner exchanges began on Friday Hamas held 240 hostages in Gaza, including women and children.
Israel holds 7,000 Palestinians in its prisons including women and children, many of them held on indefinite “administrative detention.”
Today, Israel repeated its determination to continue its air and ground attacks on Gaza when the “pause” in the onslaught ends after today, despite growing international pressure for a permanent ceasefire.
Protests are expected to continue during the week.
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