Vigils in support of Gaza have continued every evening outside the BBC offices on Oxford Road.
On Saturday 10th January, a small group gathered outside a branch of the Lloyds TSB bank on St Mary's Gate in the city centre, where they leafleted bank customers on allegations that Lloyds has unfairly denied banking services to the charity Interpal ( http://www.interpal.info/), which provides aid to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Interpal has been investigated on several occasions by the Charity Commission after accusations that it has links to Hamas, which as well as being the governing body in Gaza is also listed as a banned terrorist organisation by the EU and USA. Interpal has been cleared of all charges during these investigations.
However, according to Leo, a local spokesperson from the Boycott Israeli Goods ( http://www.bigcampaign.org/) campaign, Interpal remains on a US government list of charities with links to banned organisations.
“This list is totally untransparent,” Leo explained. “There is no way in which organisations on it can enquire about the nature of the evidence against them, and there is no right of appeal.
“But Lloyds is saying that its US operations are threatened if it continues to offer clearing bank services to the account which Interpal holds with the Islamic Bank of Britain.”
The withdrawal of services by Lloyds TSB has affected Interpal's ability to transfer money from its accounts to its partner organisations working with clinics, schools and children's projects. However, the Islamic Bank of Britain has stated that has been able to find alternative ways to transfer Interpal's funds.
Campaigners are calling on Lloyds TSB customers to withdraw their accounts from the bank, and for Lloyds to lobby the British government to defend the right of British companies to make their own decisions about their clients without pressure from the US authorities. Critics of Lloyds TSB's actions point out that even before the current military action, Gaza was already in a state of humanitarian crisis, with the Israeli government's blockade causing widespread hunger and malnutrition, and vital medical supplies and fuel in short supply.
On Sunday 11th January, Manchester's Albert Square will see two demonstrations, with the Board of Deputies of British Jews ( http://www.boardofdeputies.org.uk/) calling for a rally in support of Israel's military air and ground attacks, and organisations including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign ( http://www.palestinecampaign.org/index2b.asp) and Jews for Justice for Palestinians ( http://www.jfjfp.org/) asking supporters to mount a counter-demonstration.
This article originally appeared on the Hive Magazine website, http://hivecentral.ning.com/profiles/blogs/gaza-demonstrations-continue