For the past five weeks, growing numbers of people from the north-east have gathered in Aberdeen to protest Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, and its brutal collective punishment of withholding water, food, fuel and medicines from Gazan civilians.
Organised by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign Aberdeen and supported by local groups including Aberdeen Trades Union Council and the Aberdeen Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, as well as mosques and churches, the protests have provided a peaceful outlet for locals to stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza, and to demand a ceasefire.
Protesters have come from all faiths and none, and from many different ethnic groups, united in our humanity and our horror at the genocide we see taking place in Gaza.
Nearly 11,000 civilians and almost 5,000 children have now been massacred by Israeli bombardment – that is one child every 10 minutes. And many more are likely to die from dehydration, starvation, disease and injury if humanitarian aid does not get to them in sufficient amounts very soon.
Gaza’s remaining hospitals are on the brink of collapse, with the shortage of electricity risking the lives of hundreds of incubator-dependent babies and those in intensive care.
Nowhere in Gaza is safe. Israel claims it is not targeting civilians. But we know that isn’t true.
I am here today at the Rafah border crossing, a vital lifeline between Egypt & Gaza.
I urgently urge all parties to grant safe humanitarian access in Gaza. pic.twitter.com/2ycFnJ0a4d
— Jagan Chapagain (@jagan_chapagain) November 12, 2023
With just over two million people (almost half of them children) living within a 140-square mile radius, it’s impossible not to kill civilians when you carpet bomb residential areas, as Israel has been doing every night. Israel knows this, and so does our government.
A total of 1.5 million people have now been displaced in Gaza because of Israeli edict or their homes being destroyed, but they cannot find safe shelter because schools, mosques, churches and hospitals have all been the targets of Israeli bombardment, with further loss of civilian lives. Even those moving south, through a so-called safe corridor, have been shelled.
How many more children have to die?
Israel is committing war crimes in the full view of the world, yet still our UK Government and the leader of the Labour Party refuse to call for a ceasefire. Still, the government provides arms to Israel, making it entirely complicit in the carnage in Gaza. In the past eight years, it has approved export of £472 million worth of arms to Israel, including support for its combat aircraft that are now striking Gaza.
How many children will have to die before they discover their humanity?
Of course, they point to the Hamas attacks on 7 October – another war crime that we condemn. But those of us who have been standing in solidarity with Palestine for many years know that the Hamas attack did not come out of nowhere.
It came from decades of oppression and occupation by Israel. Palestinian lands stolen, Palestinian families evicted, the expansion of settlements on Palestinian land, and the rise of settler violence. The blockade of Gaza, which condemned large numbers of Gazans to live in poverty, dependent on UN aid. The casual, daily terrorism of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), entering homes and communities at will. The imprisonment of Palestinian children, in direct contravention of the UN Convention on the rights of the child.
The murders of Palestinian children by Israel did not begin in October – over 2,000 Palestinian children had been killed since the year 2000. The current assault on Gaza has more than tripled this figure.
Even now, on the West Bank, over 100 Palestinians have been killed since October 7 by the IDF and settler violence. Many of them are children.
Over 80% in the UK want a ceasefire
Every peaceful form of resistance has been quashed. The Great March of Return, when Gazan citizens demonstrated peacefully at the wall separating Gaza from Israel, was met with bullets that killed and maimed protesters. On the West Bank, children are shot or arrested for throwing stones. The peaceful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is being outlawed by western governments.
But, as the worldwide protests continue, we see movement. Some countries can no longer close their eyes to the horror that has unfolded in Gaza, or to the pressure from ordinary people, coming together to demonstrate solidarity with the people of Palestine.
Even in the UK, over 80% want a ceasefire. That is why our protests in Aberdeen and across the UK will continue until the international community takes action to stop Israel’s war crimes, its apartheid, oppression and occupation against Palestinians.
But people want to do more. They are heeding our call for BDS against firms complicit in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. They are heeding our call to flood our politicians with letters calling for support for a ceasefire and an end to the arms trade with Israel.
Our UK Government and the Labour leadership should be ashamed of themselves for standing by and allowing genocide to happen in Gaza. They must rethink their position, or history will judge them harshly.
Kate Ramsden is a member of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) Aberdeen