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Peace campaigners across the world demand a ceasefire in Gaza

Palestinian Red Crescent Society evacuates 31 premature babies from the al-Shifa hospital

PEACE campaigners across Britain joined demonstrations across the world to demand a ceasefire in Gaza as the Palestinian Red Crescent Society evacuated 31 premature babies from the “death zone” al-Shifa hospital today.

Actions were held by peace campaigners in major cities across the world on Saturday, including Paris, Santiago in Chile and across the United States.

Protesters blocked the Golden Gate Bridge in California with their cars and threw their car keys into the bay so that authorities could not move the vehicles.  

Across Britain tens of thousands of Palestine supporters took to the streets in more than 100 protests demanding a ceasefire in Gaza.

In London protesters defied a government ban on protests at railway stations. Hundreds of demonstrators invaded Waterloo station despite a heavy police presence and arrests were made.

An estimated 18,000 people, from babies to pensioners, of all faiths and none, rallied at the historic Glasgow Green.

Scottish Labour’s Pauline McNeill told the rally that Labour in Holyrood would back the Green motion for a ceasefire on Tuesday, adding that she was “proud” of MP colleagues who had defied UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s whip to abstain on a similar vote in Westminster last week.

The long-time Palestinian solidarity activist added: “The end goal must be justice for the people of Gaza, it must be justice for the people of Palestine.”

To chants of “Rishi Sunak is backing genocide” and “Starmer is a wasteman,” the rally then became a march, processing the streets of Glasgow city in a colourful and noisy display of support for an end to the violence.

In Manchester, around 4,000 people protested for the sixth week running.

There were also major protests in Birmingham, Oxford, Liverpool and Dundee.

Protesters also targeted Sir Keir’s office in London as he maintained his opposition to calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, and his instruction to Labour MPs to support his stance at Westminster last week.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has appealed to supporters to “ramp up the pressure” on Barclays Bank over its investment in arms firms supplying Israel with weapons.

“It’s shocking to think that the bombs raining down on Palestinians are being financed by British banks, the same banks we see on every UK high street,” PSC said.

On Sunday, 31 premature babies were safely transferred from Gaza’s main hospital by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, health officials said.

The fate of the newborns at Shifa Hospital had captured global attention after the release of images showing doctors trying to keep them warm. 

World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on social media that the “very sick” babies were evacuated, along with six health workers and 10 staff family members. 

He said they were taken to a hospital in the southern Gaza city of Rafah where they are now receiving urgent care.

A WHO team that visited the hospital on Saturday said 291 patients were still there, including the babies, trauma patients with severely infected wounds, and others with spinal injuries who are unable to move.

About 2,500 displaced people, mobile patients and medical staff left Shifa Hospital on Saturday morning, the WHO said. 

It said 25 medical staff were still at Shifa, along with the patients.

“Patients and health staff with whom they spoke were terrified for their safety and health, and pleaded for evacuation,” the agency said, describing Shifa as a death zone.

Since Israeli troops stormed the hospital last week, an act widely described as a war crime, they have been unable to provide any credible evidence of its claim that Hamas maintains a sprawling command post inside and under Shifa, part of its wider accusation that the fighters use civilians as cover. 

Hamas and hospital staff deny the allegations, and critics have held up the hospital as a symbol of what they say is Israel’s reckless endangerment of civilians. 

The joint WHO-led United Nations investigation team assessed the hospital for one hour following its occupation and evacuation by the Israeli military.

The team said they saw evidence of shelling and gunfire and observed a mass grave at the hospital’s entrance.

The WHO said it was trying to arrange the urgent evacuation of remaining patients and staff to other facilities in Gaza, and repeated calls for a ceasefire.

On Saturday a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) staff member’s relative died and another one was injured in an attack on a convoy trying to evacuate 137 people.

The MSF staff members and their families had been trapped for a week in MSF premises located near the Shifa hospital. 

A statement from MSF said: “Two of the MSF cars were deliberately hit, killing one MSF staff’s family member and injuring another.”

The statement added that MSF was calling again “for an immediate ceasefire, which is the only way for corridors to be implemented in order to safely evacuate trapped civilians.”

More than 11,500 Palestinians have been killed, according to Palestinian health authorities. Another 2,700 have been reported missing, believed buried under rubble. 

Around 1,200 people have been killed on the Israeli side, mainly during Hamas’s October 7 uprising against Israel’s occupation.

More than two-thirds of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have fled their homes. 

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, is struggling to provide basic services to hundreds of thousands of people sheltering in and around schools and other facilities. 

Their misery has worsened in recent days with the arrival of winter, as cold winds and driving rain buffet tent camps.

Over the weekend, Israel allowed UNRWA to import enough fuel to continue humanitarian operations for another couple of days, and to keep some telephone and internet systems running.

Israel cut off all fuel imports at the start of the war, causing Gaza’s sole power plant and most water treatment systems to shut down, leaving the population without electricity or running water.

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