Palestinian journalist thanks Derry at Guildhall Square rally

The Derry Anti-Coalition Rally which took place in the city on Saturday afternoon.
The Derry Anti-Coalition Rally which took place in the city on Saturday afternoon.

A Palestinian journalist, whose home was destroyed by an Israeli air strike last week, thanked the people of Derry at a anti-war rally in Guildhall Square on Saturday.

Yousef al-Helou, who first visited Derry in 2010, arrived at the very end of the rally to address the crowd.

“I didn’t chose to be a Palestinian - I just got lucky,” he said at the beginning of his speech.

“It’s amazing to see so many people here today - the weather is awful but thank you all so much for coming out and showing your support to my fellow Palestinians back home in Gaza.”

Mr. al-Helou said his wife and three daughters evacuated their home on the outskirts of Gaza City before it was bombed by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) minutes later.

“I want for my children what you want for yours - for them to grow up in a place where their human rights are respected and they enjoy equality.

“My children, like many others in Gaza, have witnessed horrible things. My daughters witnessed their friends being blown up whilst the played in the park - no child should ever have to go through this.”

Mr. al-Helou’s speech was met with constant applause and shouts from the crowd of ‘free Palestine’.

The rally took place at 2pm on Saturday afternoon and was organised by the Derry Anti-War Coalition.

Before the large group of people set out on a procession through the city centre many were handed large laminated posters detailing the names, photos and details of all the children killed during the Israeli led Operation Protective Edge which commenced on July 8.

The procession made its way along Foyle Street, up Orchard Street, along Ferryquay Street, into the Diamond before setting off down Shipquay Street where it finished off with the speeches in Guildhall Square.

Derry Anti-War Coalition members Eamon McCann and James King read out the name and age of all of the children killed by the IDF during Operation Protective Edge as the procession made its way through the

Despite the extremely heavy rain, people came out in their hundreds to show their support for the people of the Gaza Strip and to protest at the civilian casualties caused by the IDF.

Various members of the Derry Anti-War Coalition also addressed the crowd and Colum Eastwood SDLP MLA also spoke.