Peaceful protesters gather in Derby for ‘Free Palestine’ demo

More than a thousand peaceful protesters gathered outside Derby city council house today in the name of Palestine.

Dozens of protests have been taking place across the country this weekend amid escalating violence in the Middle East.

The large turnout in Derby saw people stand outside the council building and in Corporation Street.

Many were carrying placards and flags. Some of the organisers let off green, red and white smoke flares which represented colours on the Palestinian flag

Speeches were made during the demonstration, which lasted for about and hour and a half, and poems were also read out during the proceedings.

Police stated on Twitter that Corporation Street, Morledge and Exeter Bridge were closed to ensure safety while a demonstration took place.

The turnout was a show of support for the Palestinians after days of conflict between Israeli and Palestinian combatants, which has seen deaths on both sides.

Both sides have been criticised for the violence of recent days.

Leicestershire Live reports Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza have fired hundreds of rockets at Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities, while Israel has carried out air strikes it says are designed to target police and security installations, although the Palestinian authorities say there have been many civilian casualties.

According to figures from last week, the death toll in Gaza had risen to 35 Palestinians, including 12 children and three women, according to the health ministry, with some 233 people injured.

Five Israelis, including three women and a child, were killed by rocket fire on Tuesday and early on Wednesday, and dozens of other people were injured.

A focal point behind recent events was the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, a holy site sacred to both Jews and Muslims, where both sides have been accused of fomenting violence.

There have also been clashes over the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers in the Sheikh Jarrar neighbourhood of east Jerusalem.

Imam Mohammed Amar, who spoke during the event, also spoke to Derbyshire Live.

He said: “It was very well turned out and there were some very emotional people out there feeling very hurt. We wanted to show the full picture of what is taking place.

“So many different generations have come out today. I have seen pushchairs with children just a few months old and this goes through to people with two, three and four generations. It’s really good to see such a mix of ages and people here today.

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“This is a humanitarian crisis and we want to get the message out there about what’s happening.”

According to the organisers, the entire event had been put together in two days by two 15-year-olds and many were pleased to see such a big turnout.

Muhammed Ab, from Mandem Weekly, was outside the council building during the demonstration.

He said: “Today was all about raising awareness about what it going on in Palestine.

“It has been amazing to see so many people come out today. It’s so important that we get the opportunity to do demonstrations like this and get our voices heard.

“Something like this is going have a ripple effect across the country and if more people come together then we can really make a difference.

“This is a peaceful protest – it’s about protecting humanity. We wanted to invite as many people to come out today and it has been such a good turnout.”

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Raindrops fell from the sky during the proceedings, but heavy rain held off while it was all under way as people in Covid facemasks made their voices heard.

Arshad Ali, 42, of Normanton, is a taxi driver for Albatross Cars and he attended the demonstration.

He said: “It has been very interesting being here today. The important thing to mention is that this is a peaceful protest.

“It’s amazing that so many people have turned out and feel so strongly about the cause. I think it is very important that events like this can go ahead and people can express their thoughts and feeling in such a positive way.”

Mohammed Sudek, 20, had travelled from Leicester to attend the event in Derby.

He said: “The event today is very similar to what I saw in Leicester. It’s about getting the message out there. This is just going to get stronger and stronger.

“It is important that people know more about the events that are taking place.”

Below is our gallery of pictures from today’s event.

Courtesy of Derbyshire Live – Derby News