Tens of thousands protest against Israel in Cape Town, London

London sees biggest-ever rally in support of Palestine, organizers say, with 150,000 people protesting against Israel's offensive on GazaThe protesters carried placards on which they called on their government to boycott Israel

Tens of thousands protest against Israel in Cape Town, London

World Bulletin/News Desk

Tens of thousands of South Africans on Saturday staged a protest outside the parliament building in Cape Town to ask the government to take what they called "decisive diplomatic action" toward Israel's ongoing attacks against the Gaza Strip.

Muhammad Desai, a member of the global campaign Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, said the protesters who attended to the parliament building want their government to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing violations of international law. 

"Among other things, our government must recall the South African Ambassador from Tel Aviv as a form of diplomatic protest and expel the Israeli Ambassador from South Africa as a form of diplomatic protest," Desai added in a statement.

Behind him, the crowd was chanting "Free Palestine" as the protesters marched through the streets of Cape Town's Central Business District.

The protesters also carried placards on which they called on their government to boycott Israel.

"Isolate Apartheid Israel," read one of the placards. "End the war in Palestine," read another.

The protest was organized by a wide range of South African civil society organizations, trade unions and political parties under the umbrella of the "National Coalition 4 Palestine".

Several high-profile dignitaries, including Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former struggle hero Ahmed Kathrada and Nelson Mandela’s grandson Mandla Mandela, participated in the protest.

Edwin Arrison of the National Coalition 4 Palestine, meanwhile, said a petition was handed over to parliament outlining the demands of the protesters.

"I have never seen such a huge protest," Arrison, also the secretary-general of Kairos Southern Africa, told AA.

"It was really massive,” Cape Town resident Abdul Mohammed said.

South Africans had staged several protests and marches in solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza ever since Israel started its offensive on the Palestinian territory on July 7.

LONDON

Britain has witnessed its biggest-ever demonstration in support of Palestinians in Gaza, according to rally organizers, with what they said were 150,000 people marching through London to protest against Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip and Britain's arms sales to the self-proclaimed Jewish state.

Demonstrators began rallying on Saturday morning outside BBC Broadcasting House in London, before marching to Hyde Park past the US embassy, march organizers Stop the War coalition said on their website on Saturday night.

The organization stated: "So many people turned up that, when the front of the march reached Hyde Park, the back still had not left the BBC.

"We marched to demand an end to Israel's barbaric assault on Gaza, to call on the British government to implement an immediate embargo on arms sales to Israel and to show Palestinians facing Israel's war crimes that they are not alone."

Police said tens of thousands of people took part.

People from across Britain joined the rally, where many protested against the British Broadcasting Corporation's coverage of Israel's "Operation Protective Edge", which they claimed was biased towards Israel.

 'Shame on U.S.' cry 

The BBC has come under widespread attack since the launch of Israel's offensive on July 7, with many critics saying the institution had failed its public service remit by reporting inaccurately on the conflict.

An online petition signed by 450,000, including human rights commentator Noam Chomsky, journalist John Pilger, documentary and film maker Ken Loach, comedian Jeremy Hardy and musician and composer Brian Eno, was presented to the BBC three weeks ago, accusing it of pro-Israeli bias and saying the letter was intended “to remind the BBC that Gaza is under Israeli occupation and siege [and] that Israel is bombing a refugee population”.

The BBC has denied bias and defended its output as "fair and accurate".

The rally on Saturday, which was co-organized by Friends of Al Aqsa and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, continued after leaving the BBC with a march past the US Embassy in the British capital, where protesters shouted "Shame on you, U.S. and Obama!"

Demonstrators also marched through streets lined with police officers towards Hyde Park, carrying banners and placards declaring: "Silence is killing them", "Freedom for Palestine" and "End the siege".

'Pro-Zionist broadcasting'

One demonstrator, British citizen Colin Bex, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that he believed the BBC had "not been broadcasting the truth for a while now" and "was doing the same thing over Gaza".

He said: "I am ashamed to be British, since former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former U.S. President George W Bush gave support to the illegal invasion of Iraq."

He said that what was taking place in the Middle East were war crimes, and that these were supported by the UK and the US. 

Another protestor, Philip McCowall, who had come from Bristol to attend the rally, told AA that appalling crimes were being committed in Gaza and that people were being slaughtered.

"The BBC has been broadcasting pro-Zionist reportage for years. There are so many Zionists working in there," he said.

Disaster appeal

The demonstration concluded peacefully and police made no arrests.

Britain's Disasters Emergency Committee, which brings together 13 leading UK aid charities in times of crisis, has launched an appeal to aid more than 200,000 Palestinians displaced by Israel's bombardment and attack.

Organizers said they were supplying clean water, food and household items, emergency shelter and medical supplies.

The London-based aid organization said it was also helping children and other vulnerable people to cope with the psychological effects of the conflict. 

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip for almost a month since July 7, killing at least 1,904 Palestinians and injuring 9,817 others.

Crippling blockade

Thousands of homes have also been destroyed in the offensive, named "Operation Protective Edge" by Israel.

At least 64 Israeli soldiers have been killed during the operation, according to Israel, and three civilians have been killed by rocket fire.

Israel resumed its airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Friday after the expiry of a three-day ceasefire with Palestinian factions.

The Gaza Strip, home to 1.8 million Palestinians, has been reeling under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2006, devastating the economy and badly affecting livelihoods in the coastal enclave.

 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Ağustos 2014, 10:22

Muhammed Öylek

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