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War on Gaza: Pro-Palestine activists plan global 'day of action' as ceasefire calls grow

UK-based organisations, who spearheaded anti-Iraq war protests in 2003, announce global day of action on 13 January
Huge crowds march through London to call for a ceasefire, whilst holding Palestinian flags and olive branches, on 28 October 2023 (MEE/Mohammad Saleh)

Several leading pro-Palestine organisations have announced plans for a "global day of action" early next year, as calls intensify for a permanent ceasefire amid Israel's devastating offensive in the besieged Gaza Strip.

'It's absolutely crucial, not just that the demonstrations continue, but that they are strengthened, deepened and broadened'

- Chris Nineham, Stop the War Coalition

Israel has come under mounting international pressure to agree to an end its assault on Gaza, where the death toll has passed 20,000, with about 70 percent of those killed identified as women and children.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, and Friends of Al Aqsa announced plans for a global day of action on 13 January 2024, following reports that the food crisis in the embattled territory was among the worst the United Nations had ever recorded.

The organisations, along with the Muslim Association of Britain, Palestinian Forum in Britain, and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, spearheaded the 15 February 2003 anti-Iraq war protests that took place in more than 600 cities.

Millions of protesters came out in their droves to protest that war which they argued was not justified and illegal under international law.

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"The international community is failing to act by demanding that Israel cease its assault and lift the siege to bring the slaughter to an end and ensure urgent humanitarian aid can be brought to the people of Gaza," the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, also known as PSC, said in a statement on Thursday.

"Across the world, the solidarity movement has acted to mobilise millions of people to the streets demanding a permanent ceasefire. We need to intensify this pressure by coordinating actions across the globe.

"We call for a day of action for Gaza on January 13th and support the call from Palestinian civil society to unite, to call for a permanent ceasefire, to stop the #GazaGenocide, to end the occupation and dismantle Israeli apartheid."

Calls to join the global day of action have been shared widely on social media using the hashtags #CeasefireNow #EndTheSiege and #FreePalestine. 

"We need to ramp up that pressure because reliable opinion polls, tell us in the UK that the majority of people want to see a permanent ceasefire, and the demonstrations that have been of historical and unprecedented size are an important vehicle for that," PSC director Ben Jamal told Middle East Eye.

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Chris Nineham, a founding member of the Stop the War Coalition, told MEE that if a permament ceasefire wasn't brokered by 13 January it was necessary for all civil society groups to come out to protest. 

"It's absolutely crucial, not just that the demonstrations continue, but that they are strengthened, deepened and broadened, in order to maximise the pressure, not just on the Israelis, but also on the on the governments around the world to stop colluding in the carnage that the Israelis are meting out," he said.

"I think people are absolutely sick of seeing these images of suffering and pain while our leaders are not just silent but continue to support the massacres that are being carried out by the Israelis."

Ceasefire calls grow

Efforts have intensified at the United Nations for a Gaza ceasefire resolution, but vote was postponed for a third time on Thursday amid reported policy differences inside the Biden administration.

The vote, now delayed until Friday, was in limbo after the US voiced "widespread concerns" with a draft resolution put forward by the United Arab Emirates.

Instead of calling for an "urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities," the amended text now called for "the urgent suspension of hostilities to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and for urgent steps towards a sustainable cessation of hostilities."

Israeli officials have repeatedly insisted that they are only prepared to back a temporary pause as part of a hostage deal, whereas Hamas has said that it wants all of the more than 7,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons to be freed before it releases the roughly 120 hostages it is still believed to hold.

Demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza have taken place for several weeks now, including western capitals such as London, Paris, and Washington.

However, several UK officials have repeatedly lashed out at the protest movement, with former Home Secretary Suella Braverman accusing protesters of taking part in “hate marches".

​​Actions such as waving the Palestinian flag or chanting "from the river to the sea" have also been subject to criticism.

Meanwhile, in France, the country's top court has banned solidarity protests, while in the US, politicians from both sides of the aisle have shown staunch support for Israel despite the mounting death toll in Gaza.

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