November 9, 2023
From Socialist Worker (UK)

Health workers' protest for Gaza. Woman in scrubs and group of demonstrators with pro-Palestine placards

Health workers protesting for Gaza on Thursday (Picture: Jessica Walsh)

Around 250 health care workers from across London gathered outside the Department of Health and Social Care on Thursday night to show solidarity with Palestine. The protest was organised by Health Workers for Palestine who have organised blocs of up to 1,000 health care workers on national demonstrations for Palestine in recent weeks.

Protesters chanted and heard speeches read out from doctors in Gaza outlining the deliberate targeting of health care infrastructure by Israel including the bombing of hospitals and ambulances. They raised three demands—an immediate ceasefire, for the British government to stop arming Israel, and an end to the occupation of Palestine.

They also heard from a Palestinian doctor working in London responding to the Israel flag being projected on government buildings. Yhaya asked, “Where is the Palestinian flag? Why isn’t our humanity recognised?”

The protest then marched to Downing Street where organisers read the names of health workers in Gaza who have been murdered since the Israeli assault on Gaza began.

Jessica Walsh

Defiance of Braverman and demands for ceasefire

A message of solidarity with Palestine—and defiance against the Tories—went out from a rally of 280 people in central London on Thursday.

The Stop The War Coalition (STW) meeting came on the same day that Tory home secretary Suella Braverman slammed the police for not banning the national demonstration on Saturday.

Shelly Asquith, STW co-chair, said, “Despite Suella’s sniping, march we will.” She spoke about mobilisations against previous Israeli assaults, saying, “We have exceeded those numbers, not once, not twice, but three times—and we’ll do it again on Saturday.” 

Israel has unleashed a wave of murder and ethnic cleansing on Palestinians for daring to break out of Gaza on 7 October.

Author Tariq Ali—a veteran of the anti-war movement that stood with the Vietnamese national liberation struggle in the 1970s—called on people to back Palestinians’ struggle. He said, “Every time the Palestinians have tried non-violence it has failed. When we tried to set up the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, it was going well so they had to stop it. 

“They made it illegal in parts of the US and this wretched government wants to make it illegal for councils to do BDS.” 

Barnaby Raine, an academic and activist, said, “We march for the living, so that they made live. We march for the dead so that they may be remembered one day as the martyrs of a free people, not terrorists.” 

He said Israel’s punishment of Palestinians was the same as we saw “from Ireland to Algeria, from the Americas to Vietnam” by colonisers. “Punished for one thing—that they refuse to disappear,” he said. 

Keir Starmer’s support for Israeli war crimes has provoked a backlash inside Labour.  Over 50 councillors have resigned from the party over Starmer’s refusal to call for a ceasefire, let alone condemn Israel.

There were huge cheers when Mona Kamal, a councillor in west London, said she’d resigned from Labour. She said “This resignation probably came two years too late,” but Starmer’s support for Israeli war crimes was the final straw. 

Kamal said, “This is not self-defence. It’s not only an attempt to exterminate the people of Gaza, but the deliberate destruction of land and infrastructure of one people to make way for another people.

“It’s true that the first Nakba never ended, but what we’re seeing now is more brutal and perhaps more final than what came before.”  

Kamal called on people from different movements to throw themselves into Palestine solidarity because it’s “the thread that runs through all” these issues. “Palestine is the cornerstone of any fight against Western imperialism,” she said.

“It is our duty to say from the river to the sea, the Palestinian people will be free.” 

Other speakers included RMT union assistant general secretary Eddie Dempsey and rapper and activist Lowkey. 

Lindsey German, the STW convenor, said, “This is the second Nakba and that’s why we have to be on the streets. We have created a huge movement, the marches have fed into thousands of other actions.”

She slammed the Tory and Labour politicians who refuse to call for a ceasefire. “A ceasefire is the bare minimum,” she said. “But even that’s too much for them. “We should be calling for an end to the apartheid state, we should be calling for justice for the Palestinians.”

The best response to Braverman’s threats is to take to the streets in our hundreds of thousands. Let’s build the national demonstration—and keep up the militancy with station sit-ins, student strikes and workplace walkouts and actions. It’s no time for business as usual.

Tomáš Tengely-Evans

  • March for Palestine, Saturday 11 November, assemble 12 noon at Hyde Park (on Park Lane) for march to the US Embassy, Nine Elms Lane, SW11 7US. Organisers are urging those attending to use Bond Street, Oxford Street and Hyde Park Corner tubes as well as Marble Arch to ease congestion.
  • Trade union bloc: assemble 11am, Speakers’ Corner