London: Thousands march demanding end to Gaza conflict



People marched through London’s streets in tens of thousands on Saturday to call for an end to Israeli military action in Gaza.

Chants of ‘Free, free Palestine’ could be heard throughout the heart of the capital’s busiest shopping district as people from across the UK wound their way from the BBC headquarters in Portland Place to the US Embassy in Grovesnor Square, ending with rally in Hyde Park.

There were also marches in other capitals as efforts to craft a lasting ceasefire continued in Cairo, Egypt.

Almost 2,000 Palestinians have died in the conflict, the majority of them civilians, according to the United Nations. Thousands more have been injured and medical facilities in the Gaza Strip are reportedly close to collapse.

Nearly 70 Israelis have died, almost all soldiers.

Hamas, which runs Gaza, has fired thousands of rockets towards Israel, though many have been shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system.

In response Israel has launched airstrikes at rocket positions across Gaza, reducing whole areas to rubble.

Yesterday’s march, the third weekend protest since the conflict began, was organised by the Stop the War Coalition and the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

Last week Israeli troops appeared to end the ground operation, which was aimed at eliminating tunnels used by Hamas, and other fighting groups. Tunnels in Gaza have been used to smuggle in essential supplies which otherwise cannot get through due to Israel’s blockade of the Strip.

On Tuesday, Sayeeda Warsi, a senior minister at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, resigned in protest at the UK’s position on Gaza. Her call for arms exports to Israel to be halted have been echoed this week by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and others.

In the UK, the Disasters Emergency Committee, an umbrella organisation for 13 different charities, raised millions of pounds in less than 24 hours after launching its Gaza appeal on Friday.

The destruction caused by bombing will cost billions of dollars to repair.

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