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Demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza take place across Britain

ACTIVISTS took to the streets in their thousands across Britain at the weekend to protest against the killing of innocent Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli troops.

Saturday's demo saw protesters in Sheffield and Manchester occupy branches of HSBC bank, which is involved in funding arms sales to Israel.

Protesters in Downing Street called on the government to take a stand against Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians, who were demanding the right to return to their homes.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign called for a stepping up of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign in the wake of the killings.

Palestinians are staging protests in the run-up to Nakba Day on May 15 – the 70th anniversary of the eviction of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and communities when the state of Israel was founded in 1948.

More than 1.6 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants are packed into Gaza, a strip of land measuring 32 miles long by less than seven miles wide.

Thousands are staging protests at the border fence of Gaza with Israel.

The Israeli military has responded brutally, with more than 20 demonstrators shot dead and thousands injured.

Sheffield Heeley Labour MP Louise Haigh said in a message to demonstrators: “The British government’s silence is louder than any condemnation.

"It signals an unspoken support of the illegal and reprehensible actions of the Israeli government and is symbolic of a UK foreign policy on Israel-Palestine plummeting further into irrelevance, with an ever-growing human cost.”

Sheffield Labour Friends of Palestine chairwoman Julie Pearn said: “What choice do the people of Gaza have but to stand up and demand the right to live? What choice do we have but to extend our solidarity?”

At the Downing Street demonstration, president of train drivers’ union Aslef Tosh McDonald called for the creation of a society where Jews, Muslims and Christians live in harmony.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament general secretary Kate Hudson condemned “those who use words like skirmishes and conflicts as if there is an equivalence between the military might of Israel and those peaceful protesters in Gaza.”

And Baroness Jenny Tonge asked for a shout out from any MPs or lords present. “A deathy silence. I am ashamed, ashamed of them,” she said.

“Every party is guilty.

“I was on committee that introduced a clause about arms sales that we would not sell arms to countries that would use them to countries that would use them for internal repression or external repression. Israel does both and we still sell them arms. It has to stop.”

Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German said there was an urgent need for “an anti-war government led by Jeremy Corbyn that will change these policies.”

And Salma Yaqoob accused MPs of being “cowed” into not speaking out against Israel’s actions for fear of accusations of anti-semitism.

“We will be consistent in our ethics. We will not stand for one inch, one atom of anti-semitism. We will not allow our criticism of Israel to be used as a cover for any vilification of Jewish people,” she added to huge cheers.

Jocelyn Hurndall, whose son Tom was shot by an Israeli sniper and died in 2004, said: “To the mothers who have a very hard time deciding whether to encourage their sons and daughters to go to the border or not, my heart is with you.”

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