Londoners sent a strong message to Israel and its enablers in Downing Street that we will not stand by while it ethnically cleanses Palestinians, reports Shabbir Lakha
Hundreds descended upon the Israeli embassy in London on Friday to protest the illegal evictions of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah. Earlier in the week, Israeli forces violently removed the Salhiya family from the home they've lived in since the 1950s - after they were displaced from their previous home during the Nakba - and brought in bulldozers to demolish the house.
Last year, the planned forced removal of Palestinians from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood sparked international outrage and a global campaign to #SaveSheikhJarrah. The evictions had been temporarily paused after Palestinians took a stand to defend the families and Israel's subsequent bombardment of Gaza saw mass protests internationally.
But now the Israeli courts seem to have resumed approving demolition orders. Israel's actions are part of a long-running plan to displace Palestinians in the illegally annexed East Jerusalem to make way for Israeli settlers and alter the demographics to solidify Israel's claims that Jerusalem is the "undivided" capital of Israel.
At the same time, Bedouin Palestinians it the Naqab who have systematically had their land confiscated have stepped up their struggle to defend their land, and have faced violent suppression of their protests by the Israeli military.
The London protest was called with two-days notice by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, Friends of Al Aqsa, Palestine Forum Britain, Muslim Association of Britain and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Speakers including Lowkey, NUS President Larissa Kennedy, John McDonnell MP, UCU Gen Sec Jo Grady and representatives from organising groups railed against Israel's barbaric actions and our government's role in enabling them.
With Israel ramping up its ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and the Tories' attempt to criminalise protest with the Police and Crime Bill and their plans to pass an anti-BDS law this year, the need for the Palestine solidarity movement to mobilise could not be more important.
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Shabbir Lakha is a Stop the War officer, a People's Assembly activist and a member of Counterfire.
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