On Saturday 16 December, a March for Palestine in Bristol will demand an immediate ceasefire, that Israel ends the blockade, and ends its occupation. However, the march will also call on Bristolian Wael Arafat to end his six-week long hunger strike for the Palestinian people.
Israel: relentless bombardment while the world watches
As the UK hopes for white snow to fall on Christmas Day, Palestinians will be hoping that white phosphorus doesn’t rain down on them. The weapon burns through human flesh to the bone. It’s continued illegal use in Gaza by the IDF is one of many war crimes that the world has turned a blind eye to.
Last week, the US blocked a UN Security Council resolution calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza”. 13 of the council’s 15 members voted in favour, leaving 2 nations isolated; the US (resorting to using its veto) and the UK (abstained). The US has consistently vetoed international calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.
UN chief Antonio Guterres had earlier stated that it is time to act as “the eyes of the world and the eyes of history are watching”.
In 67 days, Israel killed more than 17,177 innocent people, including 7,112 children and 4,911 women. The number of women and children murdered so far is 70% of the total killed by Israel using weapons supplied by the US and UK.
So, Bristol will not remain silent.
Bristol protest on 16 December
Bristol Palestine Alliance is an urgent and organic response to the horrific events happening in Gaza. Acting as an umbrella group, it brings members from organisations and groups and communities in Bristol together to respond collectively to organise marches and other events to call for a ceasefire in Gaza and an end to Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine. It is based on the network of solidarity that has been successfully built in this city over many years.
In response to the ongoing crisis in Palestine, concerned Bristolians, activists, and community leaders will gather for a peaceful protest march on 16 December. The demonstration will demand an immediate ceasefire, an end to the blockade, the release of all illegally held prisoners, and an end to the occupation in Palestine – advocating for justice and peace in the region.
Amidst the grave humanitarian crises, the march will assemble at Castle Park at 12pm, bringing together voices from diverse backgrounds to call for an end to the violence that has afflicted the region for far too long. At 12.30pm, people will then march along Broad Weir, down Union Street, through Broadmead, back up along Broad Weir, across Baldwin Street, and culminate in a gathering at College Green.
At College Green, there will be a number of speakers including the adoptive mother of Wael Arafat. Wael Arafat, who is originally from Gaza, arrived in Bristol when he was a teenager. He was brought up by his grandmother in Gaza, when he lost both parents at age five. On October 22 he stopped eating when he learnt that Israeli bombs had killed his family and friends.
‘I don’t want to die’
The 28-year-old is calling for a ceasefire and has only been living off two tablespoons of apple juice and very small quantities of water for weeks. He is currently in hospital. As Middle East Eye reported:
“I know I might die. I know something could happen to my health,” Arafat told Middle East Eye from a hospital in Bath, southwest England, where he is being treated.
“I don’t want to die. I’m doing this for my own people who are suffering. Every person in Gaza is my brother and sister,” he said…
He stopped eating and drinking on 22 October, after learning that his sister and her four children had been killed by an Israeli air strike on their home in Gaza City…
“[My family] were telling me they’re at home and they’re safe,” he said. “They told me they might have to evacuate. I asked them, where will you go? They said we don’t know.”
Two weeks into the war, Arafat spoke to his sister for the last time.
“My sister called me to tell me they’d stayed at home and they might die. That was the last call I had with her,” he said. “I never got to meet her.”
Immediate action is needed for Palestine, Bristol will demand
Bristol Palestine Alliance said in a statement:
We will all raise his voice. And it will be loud enough for all the local MPs to hear. Loud enough to echo in Westminster. And we will call on Wael to end his hunger strike.
The situation in Palestine demands urgent attention and action. The continued occupation and violence have inflicted immeasurable suffering on the Palestinian people, disrupting lives and undermining peace efforts. This march stands as a symbol of solidarity with those affected and a plea for immediate action toward a sustainable and just resolution.
Organisers emphasise that the protest – as all the previous protests – will be conducted in a peaceful and respectful manner, aiming to raise awareness and encourage dialogue around the critical issues affecting the region.
The objectives of the march include:
- Urging an immediate ceasefire to halt the violence and prevent further loss of life.
- Calling for an end to the occupation and the implementation of measures leading to a just and lasting peace in the region.
- Raising awareness about the humanitarian crisis and advocating for the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people.
All participants are encouraged to join in a spirit of peace and unity, fostering an atmosphere of solidarity and understanding.
Featured image via Middle East Eye