Image credit: Cameron Samuel Keys

Protestors march again calling for a “ceasefire now” in Gaza

Protestors gathered again in Oxford on Saturday to call for a “ceasefire now”.

The protest, organised by “Help the World Oxford”, Oxford Palestine Society and others, is the latest in a series of demonstrations in Oxford demanding a ceasefire in Gaza.

Over 1,000 people joined the march between Cowley and Bonn Square.

The rally began in Manzil Way, Cowley, and continued through to Bonn Square. During the protest, similar chants to that of earlier protests were heard, such as “free, free Palestine” and “blood on their hands”.

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” was also featured as a chant. This message has become controversial after its usage at protests has been condemned for being antisemitic.

The American Jewish Committee described it as “calling for the elimination of the Jewish community” or “suggesting that the Jews alone do not have the right to self-determination” which “is anti-Semitic”.

The Labour Party recently suspended Andy McDonald for using the phrase during a pro-Palestine rally, whilst in the US, Representative Rashida Tlaib was censured for her use of the phrase. Tlaib has said that the slogan is “an aspirational call for freedom, human rights and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction or hate”.

Other slogans used included “Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry, we will never let you die” and “Rishi Sunak’s a wasteman”, which mirrors a protest in London on the same day, where protestors chanted “Keir Starmer is a wasteman” whilst marching through Starmer’s constituency.

Jaba Nala-Hartley, a former Labour councillor who resigned her party membership, came to speak at the protest. She said that if re-elected, they pledge to build solidarity with Palestinians fighting for liberation.

Nala-Hartley also echoed that “[they] stand in solidarity with oppressed people everywhere”, and as well as asserting that she was “an anti-apartheid activist and will be until [she dies]”.

There was a police presence at the event, including some police officers on horseback, but this was largely to keep the protest to one side of the road.

As the march reached Bonn Square, it had grown significantly, and many held signs, including one reading “stop killing children, free Palestine”. The names of those who have passed away in Gaza were displayed around the memorial in the Square.

One individual held a sign stating “vote Dodds out”. Anneliese Dodds, who has been the MP for Oxford East since 2017 and is part of the shadow Cabinet, abstained from the vote on the recent SNP motion in Parliament, which called for “all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire”.

The motion did not pass, with 294 MPs, largely Conservative, voting against, whilst 125 voted for, 56 of which were Labour MPs rebelling against the party line. Ten Labour MPs have subsequently left their position on the frontbench.

Recently ribbons have also been put up at the Radcliffe Camera, with each one symbolising a life lost in Gaza. Placards at the display also call for a ceasefire.

Photography and additional reporting by Cameron Samuel Keys