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'Death-defying': British activist climbs 200m crane in solidarity with Palestinians

Nick Georges, 69, said he scaled tower frame in south London after witnessing 'atrocities and horrors of Israeli occupation'
Sixty-nine-year-old activist Nick Georges stayed on top of a crane overnight to raise awareness about the plight of Palestinians (Screengrab/Twitter)
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London

A 69-year-old activist has scaled and spent the night atop a 200 metre high crane near the United States embassy in London, in solidarity with Palestinians. 

Nick Georges, who is a grandfather, climbed up the crane in the Battersea area of south London at 4am on Tuesday, unfurling a Palestinian flag from the summit.

In a video address, he said he had climbed the tower frame "to tell the world about Palestine". 

"For three months, I was sent to Palestine as a humanitarian witness," Georges said. "I witnessed the atrocities and the horrors of the illegal Israeli occupation of the Palestinian homeland." 

"I've seen a house where a family of four were burned alive by Jewish settlers with incendiary bombs. I've seen land desecrated, olive plantations burned."

"The Palestinians have no rights. Even their electricity and their water is taken from them," the activist stated, with the River Thames and the vast skyline of London behind him.

"As a Christian who cares, I cannot just stand by and let this go on... We should all be doing more to promote the cause of peace and freedom for the Palestinians." 

London's Metropolitan Police arrived at the scene hours after his ascent, attempting to make contact with the activist. 

A police statement on Tuesday said: "Officers attended and remain at the scene. London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service have been made aware of the ongoing incident.

"Our priority is the man's safety and officers are attempting to speak to him. As yet, he has not engaged with any of the officers on the ground."

The crane is situated on a building site at One Nine Elms, a £1bn project which will include a luxury skyscraper, and is opposite the new US embassy which opened in January 2018. Roads were closed in the surrounding area on Tuesday as a precaution.

'Palestinian life is death defying'

Supporters of Georges waiting below the crane told local media that he scaled the structure with no hard hat or safety net.

"He has done something quite death-defying, I think because for Palestinians daily life under the Israeli boot of apartheid is death-defying," fellow activist Sarah Wilkinson told local media at the scene. 

She said Georges had minimal food and drink and no sleeping bag. 

"He's garnering quite a lot of attention really, which is the point - we've had lots of conversations with people who don't know very much about Palestine, so it's been great for public awareness.”

Wilkinson tweeted on Wednesday that Georges would climb down from the crane at 5pm in the evening.

Georges posted a separate video from atop the crane on Tuesday, in which he said that he tried to engage with his member of parliament on the issue of Palestine, but that it was “a complete waste of time”. 

Earlier this week, British MPs debated economic sanctions against Israel and recognition of a Palestinian state. The sessions were held after petitions on the subject reached over 100,000 signatures, triggering a parliamentary debate as mandated by British law.

The majority of lawmakers rejected sanctions, with Labour's Catherine McKinnell claiming that it would not "bring the prospect of a two-state solution any closer". 

Like Georges, British pro-Palestinian activists have taken several forms of direct action in recent weeks, following Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip in May which killed 248 Palestinians, including 66 children.

On Monday, campaigners occupied a factory in Birmingham that produced materials used to make fighter jets for the Israeli army. Last month, similar action was taken at factories in Runcorn, Leicester and Tamworth.