Anti-war mood in Britain grows as bombing of Gaza intensifies

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, center top, walks by French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, centre, to talk with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, right, prior to a meeting to press for a cease-fire in Gaza, at Quai d'Orsay, in Paris, France on July 26, 2014.  

As the deaths in Gaza from targeted Israeli bombings steadily mount, international public opinion appears to be turning against Israel.

In the United Kingdom, thousands are taking to the streets in protest marches, even as other groups – politicians, doctors and scientists for example -- use their own platforms to denounce the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza where the death toll has now climbed to the 1500s.

A large demonstration of slogan-shouting angry activists holding placards condemning Israel was yesterday outside the Israeli Embassy on High Street Kensington. Last Saturday an estimated 60,000 people marched from the Embassy to Parliament, and a week before that another demonstration marched from 10 Downing Street to the Embassy.

The Stop War Coalition has now called for a national demonstration on August 9, to coincide with an international day of protests against Israel, and solidarity with the people of Gaza.

“We expect at least 100,000 people at the demonstration on August 9,” Ian Chamberlain, spokesperson for Stop War Coalition, told The Hindu.

“Israel’s bombing of 1.8 million Palestinians living under occupation is producing public anger. And the response of the British government has been pretty appalling. David Cameron condemns the killings of three Israeli boys but is absolutely silent on over 1500 Palestinians killed by the Israelis. The UK sells arms worth £ 8 million to Israel. Diplomatic support is the reason for the continuation of Israel’s occupation of Gaza,” he said.

A YouGov poll conducted on July 27 showed that 62 percent of British adults believe that Israel is guilty of war crimes.

A powerful video about the suffering of the children of Gaza caught in Israeli bombing filmed by Jon Snow, the well-respected broadcaster on Channel 4, in Gaza prompted an eight-year-old to write to the British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, to express her concern at the situation in Gaza.

“We are killing the people of Gaza by giving Israel weapons,” the Guardian reported her as writing. “I would appreciate it if you could talk to the government of Israel and try to stop this tragedy,” she urged.

Mr. Snow decision to put up the video first on YouTube -- where it went viral -- rather than his own channel was to skirt media regulator Ofcom’s code on getting the view from the other side. In this one case, the evidence from one side proved compelling and irrefutable enough.

In an open letter published in the Lancet on July 30, a group of eminent doctors and scientists called on their professional colleagues to denounce Israeli aggression.

“We challenge the perversity of a propaganda that justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre as a so-called “defensive aggression”. In reality it is a ruthless assault of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity,” the letter states.

The British media’s coverage of the conflict is criticised for providing insufficient background – notably that Gaza since 2006 has suffered the crippling deprivations of a land and sea blockade enforced by Israel and Egypt.

“Media coverage has by and large failed to present the context of the military occupation by Israel of Gaza,” said Mr. Chamberlain.

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