Sunday, 10 August 2014

Thousands in UK march to support Gaza

“I’m here for children of Gaza,” one protester told the BBC’s Mark Sanders
  • Children in conflict
Tens of thousands of people are taking part in a march for Gaza in London.
The Stop the War coalition demo comes amid renewed violence between Israel and Palestinian militants after a three-day ceasefire ended on Friday.

An emergency appeal in the UK for people affected by the conflict in Gaza has raised 4.5m in less than 24 hours, the Disasters Emergency Committee said.
Downing Street has also announced the UK is sending a team of NHS medical experts to the region.
Some 20,000 people were expected to be involved in Saturday’s demonstration, which saw participants march past the US embassy on their way to a rally at Hyde Park.
The BBC’s Mark Sanders, at the rally, described it as a “peaceful and noisy” protest.
“People have lost limbs… they need rehabilitation, they need prostheses, there will be chronically infected wounds,” Prof Tony Redmond told the BBC
More than 1,900 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in four weeks of Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, the UN says.
Sixty-seven people have died on the Israeli side, three of them civilians.
Shortly before the latest truce lapsed on Friday at 08:00 local time (05:00 GMT), Hamas militants began firing missiles from Gaza. Israel later said it had renewed its offensive in response.
‘Unbearable situation’
The DEC launched its Gaza Crisis Appeal on Friday evening, with the British government saying it would match the first 2m of public donations.
Saleh Saeed, chief executive of DEC – an umbrella organisation bringing together 13 UK aid charities to deal with international crises – praised the “amazing generosity of the British public”.
He said: “The funds are desperately needed, with ongoing fighting in Gaza creating an unbearable situation for families and children.
“Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes, the healthcare system is on the verge of collapse and many people have little or no clean water.
“Despite the end of the ceasefire, aid is getting through and many of our member agencies are still working on the ground. But with the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, they urgently need more money to scale up their life-saving work.”
Protesters gathered near the BBC’s New Broadcasting House on SaturdayThousands are estimated to be involved in the peaceful protest Renewed clashes broke out at the end of the latest ceasefire
NHS staff including doctors, nurses and anaesthetists will fly out to the region in the next 48 hours.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The conflict in Gaza has taken a terrible toll. The UK has been at the forefront of humanitarian efforts to help those affected and it is right that we see what more we can do.
“The NHS has always stepped up to the plate to help those in need and this expert team will play a crucial role in helping hundreds caught up in this conflict.”
James Reynolds reports from a hospital in Gaza on the resumption of violence
‘No military solution’
Conservative peer Baroness Warsi, who resigned from the government over its policy on Gaza, said arms export licences to Israel should be suspended.
She told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “What we need to do right now is put all our efforts into making sure we move the government’s position, that they suspend arms export licences immediately, that they start to lead the international effort on accountability on both sides and that they move towards a Middle East policy that is, in the long term, sustainable.
Lady Warsi explains why she resigned from the cabinet
“There is no point in us talking about a two-state solution if we don’t do the simple things like recognising Palestine in the way that the majority of the world has at the United Nations.”
Hannah Weisfeld, director of Yachad, a UK-based Jewish group which supports a two-state solution, said many British Jews supported its call for peace.
She told the BBC: “For the past two weeks, we have been calling for an urgent ceasefire and an immediate return to long-term negotiations, on the basis that there is no long-term military solution to this conflict, and there has to be a political solution.
“Unless we can find a way to bring those two parties together – Israelis and Palestinians – and create a long-term political solution in which both peoples have safety, security and self-determination that they deserve, then we’re not going to get out of this current round of violence.”
Human cost of the conflict
Palestinian deaths
  • 1,935 killed, including at least 1,408 civilians
  • 452 children
  • 3 civilians, including one Thai national in Israel
(Source: OCHA; 08:00 GMT on 9 August)
The health professionals being flown out to help are on the government’s international emergency trauma register and have volunteered their services.
Professor Tony Redmond, who is co-ordinating the Gaza operation, said 15 British medics would be sent out initially “in a staged process”.
They would be expecting to treat people who have lost limbs and have “chronically-infected wounds”, he told BBC Radio 4′s Today.
‘Desperate need’
The NHS staff will initially be based with the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians at Al Mokassed hospital in East Jerusalem.
From there, they will co-ordinate with aid agencies and local health authorities and assess the best way to get access to patients in Gaza.
Tony Laurance said hospitals in Gaza were overwhelmed
Tony Laurance, chief executive of the charity, is leading a team of surgeons leaving London on Saturday night.
He told the BBC it was a “pretty awful situation” he would be flying in to, as the hospitals in Gaza were “overwhelmed”.
Although their main objective is to treat people in the region, Downing Street said some of the injured – particularly children – may need to be brought to the UK for treatment at specialist trauma centres.
The medics are being funded by the Department for International Development. The UK has already contributed 17m in emergency relief for Gaza.
That figure includes 3m for the World Food Programme to provide emergency food and 6m for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s appeal to buy shelter and cooking equipment.
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