‘Growing up in Gaza is inspiring for poets – life here is poetry blown into pieces and scattered all over the place.’
Thousands of people have attended a pro-Palestine solidarity march in London, calling on the Group of Seven (G7) leaders currently meeting in southwest England to support Palestinian rights.
As part of the “Resist G7: Day of Action for International Justice” rally, demonstrators on Saturday marched towards Prime Minister Borris Johnson’s official residence in Downing Street, chanting and holding placards to protest Israel’s policies in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The protesters demanded an end to what they said is complicity in Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinians by the United Kingdom and other G7 governments.
Former Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn attended the march and addressed the crowd.
“At today’s Justice For Palestine demonstration in London, I also called for a halt to arms sales,” Corbyn wrote on Twitter.
“UK-made weapons are killing civilians – including children – in conflicts abroad. This must stop,” he said.
At today’s Justice For Palestine demonstration in London, I also called for a halt to arms sales. UK-made weapons are killing civilians – including children – in conflicts abroad. This must stop. pic.twitter.com/Sf2tEGjtkX
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) June 12, 2021
The rally came as the informal club of seven leading economies – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States – were meeting in Cornwall face-to-face for the first time in two years to tackle the global health crisis and climate change.
Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan, reporting from London, said the focus of the demonstrators was “changing” and “evolving” ever since a fragile ceasefire was announced between Israel and Hamas, the group that governs the besieged Gaza Strip.
Israel’s 11-day bombardment of Gaza killed 253 Palestinians, including at least 66 children, leaving behind many buildings, homes and infrastructure destroyed in the besieged enclave.
“What they’ve been talking about predominantly is BDS to try to force Israel to treat the Palestinian people better,” Brennan said, referring to the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
“The call from the protesters here to those G7 leaders is to actually pay some attention to this and take the issue seriously,” he said.
Protesters want to keep the pressure on so that action becomes “necessary and inevitable”, he added.
At the march, Raghad al-Takriti, president of the Muslim Association of Britain, said the message to the G7 leaders is “clear”.
“It is to uphold international law. It is adherence to international law,” al-Takriti told Al Jazeera.
“It’s time for these leaders to talk about enforcement, to end the siege on Gaza … and to stop their complicity, their arms deals with Israel,” she said.
Among the groups taking part were Friends of Al-Aqsa and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), which estimated that some 8,000 people showed up outside Downing Street demanding justice for Palestinians.
In a statement, PSC said: “All governments have an obligation to end their complicity and help dismantle apartheid. Instead of aiding and abetting Israel’s racist rule over the Palestinian people, the G7 must end all military-security cooperation with Israel, and employ targeted sanctions until Israel complies with international law.”
The protest was the latest in a series of pro-Palestine rallies which have taken place in London since tensions escalated in occupied East Jerusalem over Israel’s planned forced displacement of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah, attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, and Israel’s military assault on Gaza.
In recent weeks, hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory for protesting Israel’s policies. Dozens have been wounded in confrontations with armed Israeli police.
At least four Palestinians – including a child – have been shot and killed since Thursday in the occupied West Bank alone.