Protests calling for “Ceasefire Now” held in Oxford
Two protests have taken place this week calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, attracting large numbers of students and locals.
This is a response to the Israel-Gaza war, where Hamas attacks on 7th October claimed 1,400 lives in Israel and the Gaza health ministry has reported at least 9,488 deaths in the resulting conflict.
Hundreds of people gathered at Broad Street and the Radcliffe Camera yesterday, including former Labour councillor Jabu Nala-Hartley.
Speeches were given outside the Weston Library in support of Palestine. An argument briefly broke out when a passer-by shouted to the protestors to “recognise the state of Israel”, leading to police intervention.
The Oxford Trades Union Council resolved on Thursday to back calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, so a representative addressed the gathering. The organisation supports the national TUC statement which emphasised a “road to a just peace in Israel and Palestine”.
After the protest on Broad Street, protestors gathered in Radcliffe Square at around 1pm.
A speech written by a doctor in Gaza was delivered on his behalf. A medical professional who heard from doctors in Gaza also shared an account of a young girl brought to the hospital unrecognisable due to her injuries.
A list of names of healthcare workers who have lost their lives in Gaza was read out, followed by a poem and a moment of silence.
The group of protestors then lined up outside Radcliffe Camera and held names of those killed in the recent conflict along with signs spelling out “Not A Target”.
Yesterday’s protest follows one on Wednesday, where reportedly around 1,500 protestors marched through Oxford towards Bonn Square.
At the meeting point, a speaker stated that they marched “as the voice of Palestine” “[they] march today as the voice of Palestine” in order “to end the siege on Gaza”. They sought “[full] restoration of Palestinians’ rights and civil liberties in their homeland”.
Chants included “By the dozen by the million we are all Palestinian”, “1234 occupation no more, 5578 Israel is a terrorist state”, and “What do you want? Ceasefire. When do you want it? Now.”
The chant “From Oxford to Gaza, mobilise the intifada” was also reportedly attempted once without a reply. This follows Oxford Jewish Society’s statement earlier this week condemning this “call to violence” due to its history of terrorism and potential to encourage “targeting of Jewish and Israeli residents of Oxford”.
Protestors gathered at Bonn Square around 6:30 pm and a flare was let off while speakers renewed calls for a ceasefire.
These protests follow others earlier this term, with one criticising the University for receiving funding from arms manufacturers.
Image Credit: Cameron Samuel Keys for The Oxford Student