More than 500 activists gathered in London on the 5th anniversary of the end of Israel's massive military assault on Gaza to protest against the on-going blockade and bombing. The protest took place outside the Israeli Embassy, with demonstrators hearing from speakers including Baroness Jenny Tonge, British Member of Parliament Andy Slaughter and former prisoner and hunger striker Mahmoud Sarsak, amongst others.
Palestinians in Gaza have been suffering from a draconian siege imposed by Israel since 2006. The Egyptian military's recent closure of the Rafah Crossing and its destruction of the tunnels used to smuggle food, medicine, fuel and other essential items into the Strip have contributed to the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza. The UN warned in November that Gaza is quickly becoming uninhabitable as a result of the blockade.
In the midst of this worsening man-made humanitarian crisis, Israel has stepped up its military campaign against Gaza, carrying out multiple airstrikes in the past week alone.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Hamas announced that two of its military camps were destroyed on Sunday by Israeli warplanes. Last Monday, a Palestinian toddler was injured during an Israeli aerial attack on central and south Gaza, and the following day four children and an elderly woman were injured in another round of Israeli airstrikes.
Occupation forces claim that the airstrikes are in response to rockets being fired from the Strip. Israel's Iron Dome system has reportedly intercepted all the alleged rockets.
Protesters gathered in London on Saturday to voice their outrage at Israel's on-going blockade and attacks on Gaza, demanding an end to the bombing and the siege.
Baroness Jenny Tonge warned that: "We must not forget with everything else going on in the Middle East the terrible suffering that is going on in Gaza. The people there are going hungry, being poisoned and deprived of their human rights. We call on Israel and those countries that back Israel to talk to Hamas and come to a sensible conclusion."
Andy Slaughter MP used the opportunity to tell Palestinians that: "There are people in the UK that care; people have a sense of justice and overwhelming support for Palestinian human rights." Leah Levane from Jews for Justice for Palestinians added that: "The Israeli Embassy over there does not speak for us. We stand by the people of Gaza."
Ziad Elaloul from the Palestinian Forum for Britain appealed to "the international community, including the British Government, to put more pressure on Israel and lift the siege on Gaza." He also demanded that Israel "stop attacking the fisherman, stop attacking the farmers and striking Gaza, killing innocent people."
For his part, Mahmoud Sarsak paid tribute to the protestors in London and around the world, saying that: "Palestinians are steadfast because of your support."
Photos from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign