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Thousands of pro-Palestine protesters rally in London to commemorate Nakba

On Saturday, a large crowd gathered in London for the 14th national demonstration for Palestine, which coincided with the 76th anniversary of the Nakba. The event, organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, aimed to honor the memory of 750,000 Palestinians who were forced from their homes during 1947-48 and to demand an end to Israel's present military operations and ongoing mistreatment of Palestinians.

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published May 18,2024

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of London on Saturday for the 14th national demonstration for Palestine, marking the 76th anniversary of the Nakba.

The protest, organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, commemorated the displacement of 750,000 Palestinians during 1947-48 and called for an end to Israel's current military actions and systemic discrimination against Palestinians.

The march began at Mortimer Street and proceeded to Whitehall, with demonstrators demanding an end to what organizers described as Israel's "genocidal assault" on Gaza.

The event featured prominent speakers, including Gazan photojournalist Motaz Azaiza, Palestinian poet Rafeef Ziadah, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and PCS (Public and Commercial Services union) General Secretary Fran Heathcote.

Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, emphasized the significance of the march, stating that it commemorates the Nakba "as an act of ongoing dispossession, occupation, and ethnic cleansing."

"Today, even in this darkest moment, we also march to celebrate and affirm the refusal of the Palestinian people to succumb to erasure. We will not stop, we will not rest, until the Palestinian people finally achieve their liberation," he added.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn delivered a powerful speech as well, condemning Israeli actions and expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people.

"Thank you to all the organizations that have brought us together in this great sense of unity on Nakba Day," Corbyn said.

He recounted the events of 1948 when 700,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their homes during what he referred to as "Nakba Day." He detailed how many of these individuals ended up in refugee camps in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and across the diaspora, with a significant number settling in Gaza.

"In the last six months alone, 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza have now been driven from their homes," Corbyn stated, underscoring the severity of the recent escalation in violence.

He condemned the Israeli Defense Forces' threats to displace Gaza's residents into the Sinai Peninsula to create a new Gaza Strip, a move that has been widely criticized by international bodies.

"So our message on Nakba Day is cease-fire now and end to the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank," he said.

- 'Every voice counts'

"We must stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and demand justice for decades of occupation and displacement. The world cannot turn a blind eye to the ongoing suffering and systematic discrimination," one protestor told Anadolu.

"The Nakba is not just a historical event but an ongoing tragedy for millions of Palestinians. Every voice counts in the struggle against apartheid and ethnic cleansing. We must keep marching for Palestine," he added.

The demonstration comes amid escalating violence in Gaza, where Israel is intensifying its offensive in the southern city of Rafah.

The Nakba, meaning "catastrophe" in Arabic, refers to the mass displacement of Palestinians in the aftermath of the 1947-48 Arab-Israeli War. The ongoing conflict and the denial of the right to return for Palestinian refugees remain the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Protesters aim to draw attention to what they describe as Israel's "settler-colonial project," which they say fragments Palestinian communities by geography and legal status, entrenches systemic discrimination and perpetuates a regime of control over Palestinian lives.

Israel continued its brutal offensive on the Gaza Strip despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in the enclave.

Nearly 35,400 Palestinians have been killed, mostly women and children, and over 79,300 others injured since last October following a Hamas attack.

More than seven months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water, and medicine.

Israel is accused of "genocide" at the International Court of Justice, which has ordered Tel Aviv to ensure its forces do not commit acts of genocide and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.