LONDON (AA) – Twenty pro-Palestinian demonstrators staged a protest at the U.K. government department for Business, Innovation and Skills Wednesday over the British arms sales to Israel.
The demonstrators scaled the front doors and hung a banner across the top of the entrance, while others made their way inside and held up banners, distributed leaflets and read out the names of those that had been killed in Gaza.
The protestors chanted, “David Cameron shame on you”, and demanded to see a minister so that they could voice their objections to the U.K.’s support of Israel. The protestors also staged a lie-in where they lay down on the floor to symbolise the dead of Gaza.
The department for business is situated close to Westminster and passers by stopped to take pictures and took leaflets. Police arrived on the scene, but no arrests were made.
John from London Palestine Action said, “The Israeli military that is massacring Palestinians has been armed by British exports approved by the UKTI. The U.K. government has the blood of more than 650 Palestinians on its hands.”
Others called for an arms embargo on Israel. Jane told Anadolu Agency, “Israel is an apartheid state, and the U.K. should not support it,” and added, “Israel has been deliberately targeting civilians, public infrastructure and entire families have been killed. One child has died every hour for the last two days. What more has to happen before the U.K. agrees to stop arming Israel?”
Some of the demonstraters left red hand prints on the windows to symbolise what they said was the U.K.’s bloody hands in dealing with Israel.
A cross-party Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls report stated Wednesday that the entirety of the current export licences to Israel for cryptographic equipment, software and technology are valued at £7.8 billion. The committee asked the government if such licences were compliant with respecting human rights.
Israel’s offensive has left at least 678 Palestinians dead – mostly civilians – since it began on July 7 with the stated aim of staunching Palestinian rocket fire.
At least 31 Israelis, including 29 soldiers, have also been killed since hostilities began.
Israel’s ongoing “Operation Protective Edge” is the self-proclaimed Jewish state’s third major offensive against the densely-populated Gaza Strip, which is home to some 1.8 million Palestinians, within the last six years.
In 2008/9, over 1500 Palestinians – the vast majority of whom were civilians – were killed in Israel’s three-week-long “Operation Cast Lead.”
The Palestinian situation began in 1917 when the British Balfour declaration promised a national home for Jewish people in Palestine. By 1948 a newly-formed state inside of the Palestine boundary named “Israel” had declared independence, which resulted in 700,000 Palestinians fleeing or being expelled and hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns destroyed.
The diaspora has since become one of the largest in the world, refugees spread across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and other countries, while many were settled in refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinians commemorate “nakba” – “the day of catastrophe” – on May 15 in memory of the expulsion.
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