Yvette Cooper was interrupted in parliament by XR activists as she was wringing her hands over Israel

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At 2.15pm on Wednesday 15 November, Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists stood up in the gallery above the House of Commons chamber and unfurled banners emblazoned with the message: ‘CEASEFIRE NOW’.

Ceasefire now

The action was timed to coincide with a parliamentary debate on the King’s Speech, where amendments from SNP and Labour back-benchers were expected to be debated calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and an end to the Israel Defence Forces bombardment of 2.2 million Palestinian people trapped in the area.

You can hear XR protesters briefly in the background while shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper was speaking:

One of the protestors, Miranda, a mother of two young children, said:

Every day that goes by without a ceasefire more innocent people die, many of them children with their whole lives ahead of them. It breaks my heart. Our government is complicit in these atrocities, through the provision of arms and diplomatic cover. It must stop. We must do what we can to demand a ceasefire and facilitate a just peace.

The action’s aim was to highlight the urgent need for views of the public to be represented in the debate, which are currently being ignored:

Polling shows 76% of the public want to see an immediate ceasefire, yet the government and the opposition continue to reject these calls and enable the Israeli government to inflict the war crime of collective punishment on the people of Gaza. This is not democracy in action.

One of the XR protesters, Yaz Ashmawi, explained why they felt they had to take this action:

The UK has historically been instrumental in the suppression of Palestinian human rights and continues to offer unwavering support for the military onslaught we are seeing now – both diplomatically and through arms sales. It is part of the same system that is at the root of the accelerating climate and nature emergency: a system of inequality, violence and exploitation. We cannot begin to secure a just and liveable future without an end to systems of violence and oppression all around the world, and the liberation of all indigenous people.

Over the weekend, XR Families gathered in Trafalgar Square to demand a ceasefire and read out the names of all the children killed in Gaza and Israel. Parents and children laid out hundreds of baby shoes in Trafalgar Square to represent all the young lives tragically lost.

XR spokesperson Rosie Merrifield said:

Parliament must demand that the government calls for an immediate ceasefire and commits to back an internationally-arbitrated resolution which ensures the absolute protection of human rights for all, and lasting safety and peace for the Palestinian and Israeli people.

Feature image via parliament.tv, and additional images via Extinction Rebellion

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