Stroud High Street saw close to a 100 people join the vigil earlier today to end the Israel-Gaza conflict. The rest of the country saw many similar protests including a march in Gloucester and in London an estimated 100,000 people turned out (see here).
Photos: Pics of the demo this morning
In Stroud the vigil was for an hour finishing in a circle with a few minutes of silence. For me such protests are crucial to highlight the failings of the EU and our Government to use their political leverage to try and stop the war - nearly 800 people killed and thousands more injured.
It was great to see so many people attend the protest and feel their strength of feeling. We must have an immediate and complete ceasefire in Gaza. There is no way to justify this continued devastating assault and granting only three hours of respite a day is simply shameful.
Martin Whiteside, the Green party's Parliamentary candidate for Stroud, who helped organise the vigil said in a news release soon to go out: "We should not forget our own government is implicated in the slaughter, since it continues to export arms to Israel-arms. Indeed last year saw a major increase in the number of arms exports it licensed. There should be an immediate end to all arms exports from the EU, but if that cannot be secured, then the Prime Minister must act alone. The UK urgently needs a truly ethical foreign policy. We all need to lobby, lobby, lobby and take any other action we can think of to end this crisis."
Martin Whiteside added: "The Green Party is also calling on the UK Government to revoke its support for any new agreements with Israel, calling on the European Parliament to refuse to endorse any extension of existing agreements and seeking that the EU uses its influence to prevent any upgrades of EU benefits to Israel until it abides by its international legal and humanitarian obligations."
I have to note my shock at the United States vetoing a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire - this surely gives a green light to Israel to keep up the bombing on civilians, keep depriving the majority of civilians of electricity, fuel and clean water, keep denying the Red Cross access to the injured and keep up the blockade to deprive the country of food and essential medicines.
The protests are a great sign of hope that such barbarism must stop - it was great to read that Norwegian Locomotive Drivers Union have shown what trade unions in Britain should be doing now: on Thursday all trains in the whole of Norway, and all trams and subways in Oslo, stood still for two minutes in protest against the Israeli invasion. The union issued the following information for passengers: "Because of the situation in the Gaza Strip, the Locomotive Drivers Union in Norway has decided to demonstrate our solidarity with the Palestinian people. This will be organised by adding two more minutes of stoppage at the station. The same action applies to all passenger trains in Norway simultaneously. We demand the immediate withdrawal of all Israeli troops from the Palestinian territory. Thank you for your understanding."
More shockingly on Friday Al Jazeera English was reporting that it believed white phosphorus is being used by the Israelis forces in Gaza. This forms clouds which can spread over large areas and cause third degree burns. Its use at Fallujah in Iraq was widely condemned and it has been used in Afghanistan. Despite its indiscriminate character, it is not illegal in international law. I hope sincerely that it has not been used.
I also read here re how the conflict in Gaza can be seen in the context of a decade of war that has forged an even closer military alliance between Washington and Tel Aviv. See here Martin Whiteside's comment piece that was in todays Citizen - there will hopefully be another news release soon but I'm having problems with my emails...indeed I've not received any for over 24 hours.