Major Derry demonstrations in support of under-siege Palestine with anger expressed at Israeli air strikes on Gaza

Local people took to the streets at the weekend to protest the bombardment of Gaza by the Israeli military which has killed many people.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 11:10 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 11:21 am

A rally and march in the city centre took place on Saturday while a Palestine flag was draped over the Derry walls on Sunday night.

Addressing the rally in the city centre, People Before Profit councillor Shaun Harkin claimed a global intifada [uprising] was needed and that Israel can attack Palestine with impunity because other governments support and fund the “brutality”.

“We are Palestine, Palestine is us. We’re sending a clear message from here today, Free Palestine! End Israeli apartheid!”

Local people who attended the protest in Guildhall Square, on Saturday afternoon last, in solidarity with the people of Palestine. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2119GS – 039

SDLP MP Colum Eastwood condemned the violence.

“This is madness,” he said. “Murder and destruction with pinpoint accuracy. The international community must step in immediately, call for a cessation of violence and stop the evictions of communities in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and across East Jerusalem.”

Members of Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness and Pearse/Starrs cumainn carried out a number of solidarity events in the Bogside and on the Derry Walls on Sunday.

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has formally requested that the Mayor of Derry and Strabane open a book of condolence for victims of the ongoing violence in Palestine.

Young protester at the rally in Guildhall Square, on Saturday afternoon last, in solidarity with the people of Palestine. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2119GS – 030

She said: “There is widespread anger at the ongoing onslaught against the people of Gaza and attempts to evict Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.

“Derry has a long history of solidarity with the people of Palestine having been twinned with the Gazan city of Khan Younis.

“People are eager to show their solidarity so I have requested that the Mayor opens a book of condolences to give people in the city and district an opportunity to pay their respects. We call on the international community to make a stand against the Israeli onslaught on the people of Gaza and defend their human rights. Israel must be held accountable.”

The violence erupted last week after Israeli police used stun grenades inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan drew to a close, against a backdrop of forced evictions. In response the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, the largest Palestinian party, launched ‘Sword of Jerusalem,’ firing rockets into Israel.

Colr. Gary Donnelly speaking at the rally in Guildhall Square, on Saturday afternoon last, calling for an end to the violence against the people of Palestine. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2119GS – 024

IN PICTURES: Palestine solidarity march in Derry city centreThe IDF responded with missile strikes on Gaza. Over 200 people have died - the majority on the Palestinian side.

This situation was further inflamed by its coincidence with the commemoration on May 15 of the Nakba (catastrophe) that resulted in the permanent displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

MLAs yesterday debated what Sinn Féin’s Emma Sheerin called ongoing breaches of International Law in Palestine by Israel. There was broad condemnation of the Israeli air strikes and Hamas and Islamic Jihad rocket attacks although nationalists pointed out that there was little equivalence between the two. Jim Allister of the TUV said Israel had a right to defend itself.

António Guterres, the UN Secretary General, speaking at the weekend, said: “The hostilities have already caused unconscionable death, immense suffering and damage to vital infrastructure. I am appalled by the increasingly large numbers of Palestinian civilian casualties, including many women and children, from Israeli strikes in Gaza. I also deplore Israeli fatalities from rockets launched from Gaza. I am also deeply concerned by violent clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians across the occupied West Bank, including east Jerusalem, where some Palestinian families are under threat of eviction.”

Protesters make their along Shipquay Street, on Saturday afternoon last, during a rally in solidarity with the people of Palestine. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2119GS -17