HUNDREDS of people held banners at a protest in Worcester to show their outrage at ongoing violence in Gaza which has left civilians including young children dead in what some have described as a "massacre".
People carried banners saying "this is murder not war", "free Gaza", "one Holocaust does not justify another" and "anti-Zionist not anti-Jew" during the demonstration outside Worcester Guildhall on Friday. Worcester MP Robin Walker attended to talk to protestors and hear their views and told them he would raise their concerns in Parliament.
The peaceful protest, attended by 200 people, was organised by Qammar Yaqub, aged 28, of Worcester city centre and his sister Asia Khatun but he said people from all backgrounds and walks of life showed their support. The names of those killed so far in the most recent outbreak of violence were read out at the vigil. Mr Yaqub said: "We want to make people aware and make a stand. Our Government isn't doing enough about it. It's a massacre. Enough is enough."
Over 500 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed since the Israeli offensive began two weeks ago, Gaza's health ministry says. Twenty Israelis - 18 of them soldiers - have died. Israeli leaders say they are attempting to end rocket fire on their country by Hamas and a accuse the group of using their own people as a human shield. But Palestinians have condemned the high civilian death toll of this latest military action.
Colin Archer, co-ordinator of the Worcester Palestine Friendship who also attended the protest said Palestinians had nowhere to go despite warnings from Israel in advance of artillery fire and air strikes. He also said Palestinians had no sophisticated system of defence like that employed by Israel.
Mr Archer of Malvern Road, Worcester, who visited Jerusalem and Palestine for 10 days in May said: "People are incredibly anxious about what is happening. It is not until the underlying problem gets sorted out that we're going to be out of this situation - that is the fact that Palestinians are treated as second class citizens. Gaza is besieged and people can't get out. Of course Israel has a right to defend itself but not in the way it behaves. It's horrific."
Mr Archer has met the cousin of a Palestinian boy Mohamed Abu Khdeir who was burned alive in a suspected revenge killing by Israelis following the murder of three Israeli teenagers which has once again ignited tensions in the trouble spot. Mr Archer and others from the group welcomed 16 Palestinian children to Worcester last August, including one boy who claimed to have been seized by troops, blindfolded and beaten. Mr Archer urged people in the city to give support to Palestinians including charities like Medical Aid for Palestinians to help provide support to hospitals overwhelmed by the number of casualties.