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Pressure mounts on government to condemn Gaza slaughter

CROWDS are gathering outside Downing Street this evening demanding the British government end its support for Israel as the death toll from yesterday’s slaughter rose to 60.

Protesters highlighted Britain’s continuing arms exports to the country, with sniper rifle parts and ammunition supplied to the Israeli Defence Forces and suspected of having been used in attacks on unarmed Palestinians.

Marches in central London and around the country in solidarity with Palestine marked the 70th anniversary of the “Nakba,” or “catastrophe,” when 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in 1948 during the creation of the state of Israel.

Gaza’s Great Return Marches of recent weeks, which have seen peaceful protesters gunned down by the Israeli military, were held to highlight the call for a right of return for people forced from their homes, now in Israel, and their descendants.

Before the marches 25 MPs and lords rallied outside Parliament in a demo organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, some holding keys to show their support for the right of return.

PSC director Ben Jamal said: “There can be no alternative political solution to the right of return for those Palestinians who wish to return to the homes from which they were forcefully expelled.

“This right is enshrined in the law and is fundamental if there is ever to be a just solution to the refugee crisis that has resulted due to Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing and dispossession of Palestinians.

“In this year, when people of conscience around the world join Palestinians in marking 70 years since the Nakba, it is essential that we reaffirm that right.”

In the Commons, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry was granted an urgent question on Israel’s lethal assault on protesters at the Gaza border on Monday.

She said: “What makes yesterday’s events all the worse is that they didn’t come as a result of some accidental overreaction to one day's protest, but as the result of a culmination of six weeks, an apparently calculated and deliberate policy to kill and maim unarmed protesters posing no threat to forces on the Gaza border.

“Many of them shot in the back. Many of them shot hundreds of metres from the border and many of them children.”

Ms Thornberry pointed out that the bullets, that are designed to “mushroom and fragment” inside the body, were used by Israeli Defence Force (IDF) on Palestinians to cause maximum damage.

Hammersmith Labour MP Andy Slaughter — one of the 25 gathered outside Parliament — urged the government to suspend arms sales to Israel and give an “unqualified condemnation” of its actions.

Tory Middle East minister Alistair Burt told MPs that the government had “no information” on whether British arms had been used against protesters in Gaza.

Birmingham Northfield Labour MP Richard Burden said he had asked Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in a written question to investigate how sniper rifles and other weapons exported under licences from the Britain to Israel were being used.

The minister admitted that the government did not “collect data on the use of equipment after sale.”

Mr Johnson and Theresa May’s official spokesman said the government was “deeply saddened” by the deaths during “peaceful protests being exploited by extremists.”

This was echoed by Labour Friends of Israel, chaired by Enfield North MP Joan Ryan, that said on the same day scores of Palestinians were being maimed and killed by the IDF: “Hamas must accept responsibility for these events.”

Campaign Against the Arms Trade has revealed that Britain has approved £330 million worth of arms sales to Israel since its military incursion into Gaza in 2014, which killed at least 1,492 civilians.

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