Saturday 26 July 2014

Fourth week of Aberdeen protest to end the Israeli bombardment of Gaza as the Palestinian death toll rises to 1000

As thousands gathered in Edinburgh today to protest the killing of more than 1000 Palestinians in Gaza, the vast majority of them civilians and many of them children, the people of Aberdeen also came together for the fourth week in a row in even greater numbers than last week.

Today's ceasefire has allowed the true scale of Palestinian deaths to come to light as more bodies, mainly women and children, have been pulled from the rubble of bombed buildings. Over 5,700 people have been wounded and tens of thousands have been left homeless by Israeli shelling.

The Aberdeen Youth Festival kindly turned off their music, as the crowd observed a minutes silence to mourn the dead and speakers again spoke of the terrible impact of the Israeli assault on Gaza, and the need for the world to wake up to the terrible wrongs that have been done to the Palestinian people, not only now in Gaza, but over the past 6 decades.

Kate Ramsden, of the Aberdeen Trades Union Council welcomed around 400 protesters who had come out in support of the Palestinian people and to call for an end to Israel's "collective punishment" in a week that had seen one child in Gaza killed every hour in a two day period. "This is shameful," said Kate, "and we must all do everything we can to make Israel stop."

Ibrahim spoke again. He grew up in Gaza and some of his family still live there. He spoke about the history of the occupied territories, and condemned Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people. "All we want is for them to treat us with humanity, and give us our freedom," said Ibrahim.

Dame Anne Begg, MP, condemned the spiral of violence, "which is continuing to bring untold suffering to innocent people."

"The scale of the suffering in Gaza today must be fully and frankly acknowledged, because the life of a Palestinian child is worth no less that the life of an Israeli child," said Anne, calling for an immediate ceasefire, and end to the seven year economic blockade of Gaza which has contributed to death and destruction across the area.

Dame Anne will take a petition signed by the protesters and members of the Aberdeen public, calling for international pressure to be put on Israel to end the bombardment of Gaza, and present it to Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond.

Dr Khan, a consultant at ARI and a member of the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) reminded us that this is not a conflict with Jews. "There are many Jewish people who support freedom for Palestine and are horrified by their country's actions."

However, there are Israeli politicians, academics and lawyers who have expressed very extreme views, and who have been only too happy to justify the Israeli assault on Gaza.

He concluded with a poem which made the point that freedom for Palestine will also mean liberation for Israel. It ended, "The day I rise from the ruins of your oppression, I promise you I will not rise alone. You too will rise with me. You will be liberated from your tyranny. And my freedom will bring your salvation."

Unite's Tommy Campbell reminded us that the downfall of South African apartheid was a result of ordinary people boycotting South African produce, campaigning and lobbying, and supporting Nelson Mandela and the ANC, when to the Thatcher government he was still a terrorist. He called on us to take forward a boycott of Israeli produce as a practical tactic to put pressure on Israel.

Finally, Ally Coutts of the SPSC brought a message from Hilda Meers, a 90 year old Jewish peace activist. She said, "Although I can't be with you in person today, I am with you in my mind and my heart in protest against the terrible murder of Palestinian people in the Gaza strip. Not all people with Jewish heritage support the continual blockade of Gaza by the Israeli Government. I certainly don't. I hope this protest against the Israeli war will have an effect and help us stop this barbarous killing."

The protesters pledged to return next Saturday and for as long as it takes to win an end to the brutal massacre of the Gazan people.

With thanks to Renee Slater for the pics of the protest