Over 20,000 demonstrators showed their support for the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in a march and rally held in London on 9 June, 2007, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War and the ongoing military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. The rally, which took place in Trafalgar Square, was organised by Enough!, a coalition of over 50 charities, trade unions, faith and other campaign groups.
All around the world, thousands marked the anniversary with a week of actions against the Israeli occupation (see this round-up). In Germany, G8 protesters responded with a mass demo at a Caterpillar plant in Rostock [Video]. An unconfirmed report claimed that the plant was fire-bombed that night, destroying Caterpillar machinery.
Related: This Week In Palestine – Week 23 2007 | Taking Aim: The Destruction of Palestine | Co-op Radio: Palestine - 40 years of occupation | The Six Day War Deceptions | Israel's Attack on the USS Liberty Revisited | John Pilger: Resisting the Empire
Traf square was nearly packed for the speeches
People came from all over the country, as was evident from their banners, to participate in the demonstration. Speakers at the rally included members of the Palestinian government, British politicians, trade unionists, faith leaders and an Israeli Refusnik (conscientious objector). Along the route, Zionists had set up a counter-demonstration. Despite teaming up with Christian Zionists, however, they could only muster a very small group.
In June 1967, the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem (22% of the Palestinian homeland) as well as Sinai, the Golan Heights and the Sheba Farms were lost to Israeli invaders during what's know as the Six-Day War. The other 78% had been seized by Israel in the 1948 war, when three quarters of a million Palestinians were ethnically cleansed. Since 1967, the 22% has been eroded through a system of illegal settlements, settler-only roads and the Apartheid Separation Wall. This has served the purpose of destroying contiguity of Palestinian land, and of dividing the West Bank into at least three distinct cantons. Vast amounts of agricultural land and crops have been taken or destroyed, increasing Palestinians' dependence on aid and destroying communities and livelihoods in the process. Israel has shown that settlements can be dismantled in 2005, when it removed the settlers and a military prison in the Gaza Strip. Since then Gaza has become a virtual prison, with its borders, sea and airspace controlled by Israeli forces. The Rafah crossing, Gaza's gateway to the world, has been closed for most of this year.
Europe and the United States have continually refused to act for the rights of Palestinians, regardless of the brutal behaviour of the occupying Israeli army. In fact, they have demonstrated their partiality by subsidising the Israeli state to the tune of billions of dollars per year and arming them to the hilt. Israel's nuclear arsenal has been public knowledge for decades and has been studiously ignored. When Palestinians tired of the outrageous corruption practised by Fatah politicians in the Palestinian Authority, their decision to use their vote to elect Hamas was rewarded by imposition of economic sanctions by Western Powers.
In response, boycott campaigns are also increasing and gathering momentum. In Britain, there have been votes by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), University and College Union (UCU) and the Public Service Union (UNISON) for action against the Israeli state and support for the Palestinians.