Saturday 19 July 2014

Hundreds of voices raised in protest and outrage against Israel’s “war against children” in Gaza

Almost 300 protesters gathered in St Nicholas Square, Aberdeen on Saturday 19th July to show their outrage at the continuing Israeli assault on Gaza and the brutal killing and injuring of civilians, including many children.

Organised by the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, Aberdeen Trade Union Council and other local groups, these numbers have swollen tenfold over the past two weeks as more and more people from the North East raise their voices in condemnation at the Israeli policy of collective punishment and the failure of the international community to put a stop to this.

Kate "ordinary people
raising our voices"
ATUC Vice President, Kate Ramsden, welcomed the protesters and thanked them for turning out in such numbers. She reminded us that in the dark days of South African apartheid, the voices raised in protest were not those of governments but those of ordinary people like ourselves, of trade unionists, of activists and of citizens who just knew apartheid was wrong.

“That is why we are here today, ordinary people raising our voices because we know that the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the brutal oppression and repression of the Palestinian people, and in Gaza, the killing of Palestinian civilians, including so many children, is just wrong.”

Members of the public, out shopping stopped to listen and to lend their support as the speakers gave moving testimony of the impact on the Gazan people of occupation, oppression, and now out and out assault by Israel.

Ibrahim "Palestine
must be free"
Ibrahim, who grew up in Gaza thanked the protesters for standing with the people of Gaza, with the bereaved families, the orphans, the widows and the widowers, as well as all those made homeless by the bombardment.

He reminded us that Israel’s “collective punishment of Gaza” is in breach of international law.

“Gaza is like a big prison,” he said, “There is nowhere for people to run to.”

The bombing has targeted public buildings as well as people’s homes, leaving countless numbers homeless.  Even the hospitals have been bombed. “Why?” asked Ibrahim. “These are seriously ill people not terrorists.”

He spoke of the history of the conflict and told us that this is not just about Gaza but about the Israeli occupation of Palestine as a whole and will only be ended when Palestine is free.

Ibrahim closed by sharing a story about his father. He had asked him if Palestine would be free. His father said, “Palestine will be free in my time, or if not in my time in your time, or if not in your time in your children’s time.” That time must come, said Ibrahim.

Jonathan "fight back against tyranny"
Jonathan Russell, Chair of Aberdeen CND warned that Israel is the only country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons and a world leader in security and defence equipment.

“We are told that (Israel) is targeting military targets. However, they are not only murdering women and children, they are destroying what’s left of Gaza’s water infrastructure,” slammed Jonathan, calling for us to bring pressure on our own government to stop buying and selling arms to Israel.

“It is time for all good people across the globe to fight back against tyranny.”

Maryam, an Aberdeen student spoke movingly of the situation in Gaza and condemned the coverage of the situation in Gaza by the BBC and other mainstream media outlets.

Sean McVey from the Radical Independence Party slammed the “latest brutal and bloody assault against the people of Gaza by Israel” but added that this is one of countless horrific attacks in a brutal and relentless oppression which has lasted over 65 years.

“But none of the weapons in the Israeli arsenal can ever break the will of the Palestinian people to be free,” said Sean, calling on all the people of Scotland to stand on the side of the Palestine people and to take whatever action we can to end the occupation.

Brian "criminal
Brian Carroll, speaking on behalf of the Aberdeen Trade Union Council said that this was one of many protests across the UK in condemnation of the “criminal genocide” being perpetrated by Israel. He spoke about the killing earlier in the week of four Palestinian children, boys playing football on the beach.

“I had tears in my eyes when I heard of their killing. In fact I have tears in my eyes now. That could have been four little boys playing football on Aberdeen beach, and how would we feel then?” he asked, bringing home the suffering of the people, people like all of us, who happen to live in Gaza.

June "a war on children"
This was echoed by June McGuire of Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, who pointed out that children have been killed and injured and will go on being killed, injured and traumatised by the Israeli assault, because half of those who live in Gaza are children.

“This is a war on children,” slammed June, finishing with an extremely moving poem written a few days ago by a woman, a mother in Gaza.

SPSC’s Fiona Napier called on all of us to carry on protesting but also to take practical action to boycott Israeli goods, and to bring pressure on Sainsbury’s to stop dealing with suppliers complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. She also called on us all to support actions to stop councils outsourcing to companies with links to Israel. Protesters signed a petition to ask Aberdeen council to rethink commissioning G4S, Eden Springs and subsidiaries of Veolia.

Click here to see the report of the Glasgow and Aberdeen protests on STV