BIRMINGHAM VIGIL FOR ISRAEL’S GAZA VICTIMS
Hundreds of protestors staged a candle-lit vigil in Birmingham City Centre last night in protest at Israel’s bombing of Gaza.
An estimated 335 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,400 injured – many of them civilian bystanders - since the onslaught started at the weekend.
Over the same period, four Israelis have been killed by rockets from the other side of the border.
The Israeli government has said it regrets the death of civilians but insists the attack is necessary to prevent terrorist attacks and halt the smuggling of weapons through a network of tunnels straddling the heavily fortified border.
Birmingham councillor Salma Yaqoob, who inspired the vigil along with her Respect Party colleagues and the Stop The War coalition, called for a halt to military action.
"What's breathtaking is the hypocrisy," she said.
"Ninety five people are killed in Mumbai and the world is outraged, yet more than 300 people die in Gaza and there's hardly an outcry.
"Let me stress that we don't think there are any 'legitimate targets' anywhere in the world.
"We don't say that the lives of some people are more important than any others.
"But just ask yourself this question - is what Israel is doing more likely to bring about peace or less likely?
"It's only going to create more martyrs, and more people with a desire for revenge."
Pressed on whether Israel had the right to defend itself against gun runners smuggling weapons through the tunnel network, she said: “What’s being smuggled are vital supplies.
"Gaza is in a state of siege. It's like something out of medieval times.
"The World Health organisation has estimated that 90% of the water supplies there aren't fit for human consumption.
"People lack food and basic medical supplies, so there has to be smuggling - but that's come about as a direct result of what Israel is doing".
Birmingham Yardley MP John Hemming (Liberal Democrat) who also attended the vigil was also critical of Israel.
Blogging on The Stirrer Forum he said: “ If we are going to support the rule of law and principle then that should apply regardless of the people on each side.
"In Georgia Russia was criticised for supporting the Ossetians against attacks from the rest of Georgia. Here there seems to be a viewpoint that Israel can do what ever it wants. This may change with the change of [US] President.
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